Thursday, May 25, 2017

Chris Rogers Voyage Home

Chris Rogers
Voyage Home
Art of Life Records

This album is the debut as a leader by trumpeter Chris Rogers, who is the son of legendary salsa and latin jazz trombonist Barry Rogers. Rogers was also with the Brecker Brothers and Billy Cobham, a founding member of the legendary jazz-rock band "Dreams." A remarkable player, he replaced Tom Harrell in Gerry Mulligan's Concert Band at the age of 19. Rogers himself states about his background, "“Listening to Mike, Randy and my dad playing together, and all Barry’s great solos on those classic Eddie Palmieri sides pretty much informed my concepts... and have been such towering influences upon me that the music here can be considered a direct reflection of their incredible spirits.”

There is a wonderful cast for this recording (recorded in 2001 but now released) with the bass/drums tandem of Jay Anderson and Steve Johns, pianist Xavier Davis, Synthesizer/keyboard wizard Mark Falchook joins the rhythm section on three. Two selections have the great Mike Brecker (Randy contributed to the liner booklet), and four have tenor and alto saxophonist Ted Nash, while baritone saxophonist Roger Rosenberg and trombonist Art Baron perform on a very special dedication to Barry Rogers - enhanced by the great man himself on an introductory trombone cadenza (thanks to the blessings of technology). Also guitarist Steve Khan is on three tracks, two of which include conguero/percussionist Willie Martinez.

Rogers contributed the nine compositions performed here which might in overly simplistic terms be viewed as being rooted in the post-Coltrane and Blue Note hard bop of the late sixties and beyond. The opening "Counter Change" certainly starts in that mode with the leader's crisp trumpet and Brecker's robust, volcanic tenor sax while the following title track (dedicated to Dan Grolnick) has a dreamy flow that to these ears evokes some of Herbie Hancock's recordings and has some lovely tenor from Nash. While "Whit's End" alludes to Whit Sidener, Rogers' teacher at the University of Miami, it is dedicated to Michael Brecker, who is brilliant here also playing with virtuosity and imagination while Rogers own playing displays his clarity and bite.

Dedicated to Lew Soloff, "The Mask" has a bluesy funk feel to it with more strong tenor from Nash. "Ballad for B.R." is dedicated to his father and the opening trombone cadenza is lifted from one of his father's solos with Eddie Palmieri. Art Baron on trombone and Roger Rosenberg on baritone sax join Nash and Rogers for this performance with some lovely arranging of the four horns in stating the theme and coloring the solos by Nash, bassist Anderson, Rogers, Rosenberg and Nash on an enchanting performance.

There is a three song suite of songs that feature guitarist Steve Khan, starting with "Rebecca" dedicated to Ray Barretto, a spritely paced latin jazz composition that he brought to a Barretto rehearsal. Pianist Hector Martignon named it after Rogers' sister who had attended on of their gigs. Dedicated to Mike Lawrence, "Ever After", was Rogers' first composition. It is a lovely ballad with the lyricism of Rogers and Khan evident throughout set against a light samba-like rhythm. "Six Degrees" is described as a bebop-influenced composition, with Rogers playing a mute (evoking Miles to an extent) with Khan's gorgeous comping in addition to his own marvelous solo. Bassist Anderson is also showcased here.

Nash returns for "The 12-Year Itch," whose title refers in part to it taking 12 years to finish this jazz shuffle. The head of this bouncy performance reminds me of some of Woody Shaw's compositions. Pianist Davis is featured here with a solid improvisation, along with by the two horns. It closes an excellent recording that sounds contemporary today.

My review copy was received from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the March-April 2017  Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 371). Here is a short video clip of Chris Rogers on flugelhorn.


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