David Leonhardt

Departure

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This album as much as any reflects the sad state of affairs jazz finds itself in when it comes to getting into the recording studio of a major or large independent label. Pianist David Leonhardt has gathered together some of the leading lights on their instruments in the jazz world. Eddie Henderson is on trumpet, Robin Eubanks on trombone, Rich Perry on sax, and there's the fine rhythm of Ray Drummond, Marvin "Smitty" Smith, and Lonnie Plaxico on bass, drums, and bass, respectively. They find themselves in a studio under the aegis of Leonhardt's Big Bang label. This is not to deprecate the label, but certainly jazz players at their level deserve all the amenities (promotion, distribution, etc.) that come with recording with a major label. The music played here is further evidence that these players and others who have paid their dues many times over warrant better recognition. With a musical agenda of a mix of Leonhardt originals and standards, the group offers more than 50 minutes of first-rate jazz. Listen to Leonhardt and Drummond exchange ideas and solos over the supportive but not domineering drums of Smith. Plaxico replaces Drummond on a magical rendition of "Out of Nowhere" which seemingly floats out of the CD. The front line joins in on a muted, boppish Leonhardt tune called "Do It" that, like his other compositions, leaves plenty of room for some expression of individual ideas, especially by Henderson. More good things come with "Departure," where close attention is needed to appreciate the fairly complex interplay between Leonhardt and his two rhythm section companions and a close-to-chamber jazz rendering of "Off Nite in Brooklyn," with the horns returning. This is a fine album and highly recommended.

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