Review of "The Round"
By Ernest Barteldes
Mostly through original tunes, The Round explores diverse music
without straying too far from the jazz realm. This is evident from the first track,
Floating, where saxophonist Alexander McCabe goes into a bossa nova-esque
direction (the opening notes are immediately reminiscent of Jobims Chovendo
Na Roseira), reminding me of how much I loved Getzs incursions into
that genre. That is not all the tune has to offer, howeverMcCabe shows off
accomplished improvisational chops, while the other musicians lend subtle but
Pianist Joe Barbato switches to the accordion for the title track,
a fun song that has a bit of an old dance beat to it (to call it a polka would
be a stretch). The track was apparently recorded liveyou can hear a few
misses on Barbatos side, which feel wrong but do not damage the tune at
all. He also contributes a solo halfway through and the general feel is playful.
Barbato also contributed two of his own compositions to the album.
Taylor Made is a beautiful tribute to the late bassist Dr. Mike Taylor.
The midtempo tune maintains a traditional feel, with modern inserts by the songs
composer and a straight but vigorous bassline by Ugonna Okegwo.
Jugo has a completely different feel, its salsa intro
a clear homage to folks like Paquito DRivera and Arturo Sandoval. Another
memorable moment is drummer Steve Johns composition A Cry From The
Rainforest, which goes further into Brazilian territory than the first track.
Here McCabe improvises without using too much speed, possibly drawing inspiration
from Joe Hendersons frequent contributions with Jobim, Eliane Elias and
others. Barbato follows the saxophonists lead, playing in an incredibly
subtle manner, cleverly switching to the accordion during Okegwos bass solo.
These musicians willingness to push into different styles
results in a record that offers welcome surprises to the listener.
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