Thursday, June 07, 2012

Ralph Lalama's Hard Bop Bopjuice

A recent release by the SmallsLive label in its Live at Smalls series of recordings is one by the trio of tenor saxophonist Ralph Lalama, Bopjuice. Lalama, a veteran of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra is joined by Joel Forbes on bass and Clifford Barbaro on drums for six performances recorded live at Smalls Jazz Club in Greenwich Village that last about an hour.

An obvious point of comparison to this might be Sonny Rollins classic Live at the Village Vanguard recordings on Blue Note. From the opening take on Wayne Shorter’s Lester Left Town, through the closing moments of Wonderful, Wonderful, one is impressed by Lalama’s robust tone, as well as his lengthy thematic and melodic improvisations and the support he receives from Forbes and Barbaro, both who get their own spotlight. On the lively original Da-Lamma’s Da-Lemma, Lalama and Barbaro engage in a spirited musical dialogue. A ballad like Thad Jones Mean What You Say, displays a different side of his playing and sound.

Victor Young’s classic ballad, Love Letters, is taken at a brisker tempo and the tone and thematic develop might be the strongest here, but the level of Bopjuice’s music and this entire recording is first-rate. This is another excellent addition to the SmallsLive catalog.

I purchased this. Here is a sample of Ralph Lalama's tenor sax.

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