Bill Cunliffe: Yearnin'
Bill Cunliffe (piano)
The Blues and the Abstract Truth, Take 2 (Resonance 2003)
Larry Lunetta (trumpet), Andy Martin (trombone), Tom Warrington (bass).
Composed by Oliver Nelson. Arranged by Bill Cunliffe.
Recorded: Los Angeles, 2007
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
The Blues And The Abstract Truth, take 2 is pianist Bill Cunliffe's tribute to the classic jazz album by Oliver Nelson. Less remake and more re-examination, Cunliffe's arrangements of Nelson's compositions are faithful to the originals while allowing Cunliffe to sound his own voice. "Yearnin'" might be the furthest diversion from Nelson's arrangement, in its updating of the harmonic language and in the lead soprano sax of Bob Sheppard. Sheppard is also heard soloing on tenor sax right after the head, so either he made a lightning-quick change of horns or the solo was dubbed in later. Sheppard's tenor sound has a hollow sound that works well within the blues context. He shows great control of the horn and a wealth of ideas. Terell Stafford is next and his trumpet style bears more than a passing resemblance to Nelson's original trumpeter, Freddie Hubbard. Stafford plays a fiery solo that ranges all over the horn, and like another of his idols, Clifford Brown, Stafford's sound stays big and full no matter how high in the stratosphere he goes. Cunliffe's short piano solo is exceptionally well-crafted, using single lines throughout, with intriguing note choices at the beginning and deft rhythmic displacement at its peak. Mark Ferber uses mallets on tom-toms to bring back the original misterioso mood. While it would be impossible to top the original album, Cunliffe's tribute enhances the original with fresh approaches to these classic tunes.
Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe