South Florida saxophonist and flutist Tom McCormick impresses as a musician, composer, arranger and leader on his new self-produced recording, "South Beat." McCormick, a Professor at Miami-Dade, is joined by Pete Wallace on piano, Nick Orta or Eric England on bass, Carlomanga Araya or David Chiverton on drums, Edwin Bonilla on congas, and Humberto Ibarra on guiro, with guest appearances by guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and with trumpet and flugelhorn solos from John Lovell.
This is bouncy, lively latin-flavored straight-ahead jazz that opens with the bouncy title track that displays the leader's robust tenor sax along with crisp solos from Wallace and Lovell. "Iridescence" is another lively number with the rhythm helping percolate the performance before the leader's fruity solo. "Mantra" features the leader's airy flute along with Kriesberg's soaring guitar solo on a selection that has somewhat of an early Return to Forever feel to it. McCormick attractively scores Coltrane's "Naima," for the three horns on this recording as well as provides a nice rendition of this familiar jazz classic with with outstanding backing from his rhythm section. Wallace also takes a choice solo before John Kricker's trombone takes the lead on the performance's closing section. Horace Silver's "Barbara," benefits from the latin flavor McCormick provides and Wallace is again outstanding on this as is the leader who displays a presence with his solo followed by some flugelhorn. The standard "My Foolish Heart" showcases McCormick's very appealing manner with a ballad with considerable warmth in his tone and bassist England also soloing here.
"Blue Cha" again showcase McCormick''s flute along Lovell's trumpet. Guitarist Leo Quintero guests on the soul-jazz tinged "Feel the Spirit," with Wallace's adding a touch of funk before the leader's gritty solo. A lively Latin Jazz take on the Dietz-Schwartz standard, "Alone Together," with marvelous tenor sax, trumpet and piano on a lively close to a recording that displays some of the marvelous talent down in South Florida.
I received my review copy from a publicist. This review appeared in the September-October 2016 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 368). Here is "Blue Cha" from "South Beat."