Saturday, October 16, 2010

No Detours Stopping Chris Pasin

Born in Chicago, but raised outside New York City, trumpeter Chris Pasin had a notable career including stints with Buddy Rich’s Big band, and that of Toshiko Akiyoshi/ Lew Tabackin and working with Jack McDuff, Salsa and Brazilian bands. He had attended the New England Conservatory where he studied with Gunther Schuller, George Russell and Jaki Byard (later he studied composition with Richie Beirach) and in 1987 recorded the just issued ‘Detour Ahead” (H20 Records).

This 1987 recording has him with a fine ensemble including Steve Slagle on saxophones, Benny Green on piano, Rufus Reid on bass and Dannie Richmond on drums. The inclusion of Richmond is not a surprise given that Charles MIngus is a significant influence on Pasin’s writing along with Byard and Beirach. Pasin took a hiatus from music as he raised a family, and recently has resumed playing recently.

The opening “Lost and Found” would have made a nice title for the disc and is a pretty nice composition typical of the hard bop from the 70s and 80s with Slagle sweet and sour soprano here along with the leader’s pungent trumpet on a performance suggestive of some of the combos Woody Shaw led during this period. The notes for this recording note that “It Doesn’t Matter Now,” allude to “Monk’s Mood,” but I found the flavor of this composition reminiscent of some of Charles Mingus’ compositions (such as the slower portions of “Sue’s Changes”) with a double time tempo change occurring throughout as evident during Green’s lovely solo followed by Pasin’s solo with his appealing, round tone.

Jackburner” is opens with a hot duo between Pasin and Richmond before a hot solo from Slagle on soprano. The title track is not a Pasin original and is a ballad he first heard done by Cedar Walton and allows him to display his bright sound with just the rhythm section and Slagle sitting out. “Light at the End of the Tunnel” is a multi-sectional number that opens with a somber lugubrious Middle-Eastern tone before kicking into a hotter tempo led by Green’s piano with nice concise playing from the leader followed by Slagle on alto, with a forceful solo from Reid.

The aptly titled “Enigma,” has Pasin playing more aggressively than the notes description of Miles-ish muted trumpet would suggest followed by Slagle’s serpentine soprano playing with the rhythm section adding some unusual accents. The Rogers and Hart standard “My Romance” is a strong straight-ahead vehicle for the quintet. The light island groove on “Island” has nice muted playing from the leader along with Slagle on flute.

Pasin’s playing is wonderfully delivered throughout this recording whether bright and mellow on a ballad, or with a crisp pungent attack elsewhere and the rhythm section of Green, Reid and Richmond is superb throughout. If the extraordinary music here had been released when recorded we would be saluting the reissue of a classic session. This is available from, (amongst other sources) amazon, cdbaby and iTunes. Chris Pasin’s website is

This review appeared originally in Jazz & Blues Report (December 2009 (Issue 322)). I have made minor edits.  
My review copy was provided by a publicist.

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