Chuck Florence

Home on the Range

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With Home on the Range, Chuck Florence came up with a winner for his first session as a leader. Teaming with pianist Jaki Byard, drummer/vibraphonist Alan Dawson, and bassist Clipper Anderson, Florence runs through a set of straight-ahead hard bop that's continually vital, even advanced. The style is familiar, as are some of the songs, but the music is exciting and new, and the players keep things lively and fresh. The music has a strong groove to it, but the players never settle in -- they push and pull, inspiring one other to reach further. Florence is clearly a strong leader, but he reveals himself as a skilled composer as well, with "An Aries Evening," a multifaceted composition that alternates between bop and New Orleans jazz, as he switches from sax to clarinet and back again. Byard is in fine form, too, always delivering top-notch work, either as a soloist or as support; the rhythm section is similarly skilled. Home on the Range may not offer any major revelations, yet it certainly is an enjoyable, rewarding listen.

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