Terell Stafford: Selah
Terell Stafford (trumpet)
New Beginnings (MaxJazz MXJ 402)
Derrick Hodge (bass), Dana Hall (drums).
Composed by Terell Stafford.
Recorded: Brooklyn, NY, January 15-16, 2003
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Terell Stafford opens his New Beginnings Suite with a powerful, bass-driven piece that highlights the trumpeter's funkier side. Stafford defines "Selah" in the liner notes as "a biblical reference meaning 'to pause and reflect.'" This tune gives both its performers and listeners an opportunity to do just that. Its oddly phrased head consists of short bursts of melodic lines shared by Stafford and altoist Dick Oatts. Between these terse statements are spaces filled solely by the rhythm section. These may be what gives "Selah" its title. They serve as a time for the listener to reflect on what has been played, rather than overwhelming him or her with an overly complicated melody.
After a break at the end of the head, Hodge and Hall light a fire under Stafford with a groove that continues to build with every phrase he delivers. Stafford's playing is a breath of fresh air in modern music. He explores numerous harmonic and rhythmic possibilities without wandering too far off the grid and losing the listener's attention. Dick Oatts's solo pushes and pulls at the structure of the tune. He leads the rhythm section into a new groove that brings the energy to a minimum, only to carry it upward once again as Oatts releases a fit of notes to climax this brilliant composition.
Reviewer: Greg Marchand