Saturday, January 02, 2010

Unsung Tenor Master With Energetic New Disc

The following review appeared in the June 2009 issue of Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 317) and Lalama impressed this listener immensely.

Veteran tenor saxophonist Ralph Lalama has been playing for decades, and probably is most noteworthy for his work with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra on their long-standing Monday night gig at the fabled Village Vanguard, but has also been part of Joe Lovano’s Nonet. He has recorded several albums for the Dutch Criss Cross label. His most recent album is Energy Fields (Mighty Quinn) with a strong quartet filled out by John Hart on guitar, Rick Petrone on bass and Joe Corsello on drums for an interesting collection of material that is handled with robust authority throughout.

The disc opens auspiciously with a vigorous rendition of Woody Shaw’s “Moontrane,” followed by a boppish rendition of Charlie Parker’s “Buzzy,” with Hart and Lalama taking the head in a fashion akin to Parker and Gillespie. Hart’s fleet guitar with his single note runs punctuated by chords is a foil for Lalama’s vigorous playing with a sound at times suggestive of Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon. Lalama’s original “Nonchalant” showcases his ballad sense while Hart contributes a fresh arrangement to “Old Folks,” one of the staples of Ben Webster’s repertoire, but with Lalama’s strong playing following Hart’s initial solo, while his attack on “Like Someone in Love” is evocative of Rollins and Gordon in sound and approach

Other selections also taken at this high level include Wayne Shorter’s “United,” the classic ballad “Indian Summer,” and the swinging “Just in Time.” Lalama is marvelous through as is the entire group producing an excellent set of strong, contemporary jazz. This can be obtained at or from amazon.

For FTC purposes, I received a review copy from the publication.
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Energy Fields

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