Roland Guerin

Live at the Blue Note

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This live club date showcases the bass-heavy mix that places Guerin squarely in the middle of a sextet of his young peers, who give him all the impetus he needs for swinging in the modern mainstream idiom. On half of the cuts, trumpeter Antonio Gambrell, tenor saxophonist Brice Winston, and alto/soprano saxophonist Derek Douget each get spotlight tunes. Pianist Frederick Sanders and drummer Donald Edwards, both who have recordings out as leaders in their own right, bolster this ensemble in real and important ways. From the outset the bass-on-top approach is readily evident for an interesting, groove-laden, hard-swinging, extended line arrangement of "All Blues." Gambrell gets a feature spotlight as Guerin clips the intro ostinato of the Miles Davis arrangement of "Autumn Leaves" to a snippet, and the trumpeter does the stretching. The remaining five selections are Guerin originals. A spirited waltz, "Brandy," has the horns locked in chattery counterpoint, while a heavy one-note strummed bass solo leads to a march coda. There are dual melodies on "That Moment," one childlike and Afro-Cuban, the other advanced, progressive, and bopping. Multiple solos pad the 14-plus-minute jam bridge plus a slap bass excursion. That same palm-busting technique informs "Slap Happy" over nearly 11 walking minutes as the leader goes into another long solo while Winston evokes phrases from "Robbins Nest." Douget's nicely hewn soprano gets center stage props on the ballad waltz "A Small Still Voice," while his alto takes on two melodies during "As Dear Children Do," one lilting, the other repetitive. Guerin's sound is solid as steel, and exceptionally recorded at the N.Y.C.-based Blue Note club, sounding more like a studio date with repeated listenings. It's a pretty auspicious debut for the leader and his new generation, post-Marsalis buddies. Recommended.

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