Vincent Chancey

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As a first-call ensemble player, Chancey has had the French horn to depend on for a number of years, and his credits as a sideman are long and impressive. For this date as a leader, he's chosen electric guitarist David Gilmore, electric bass guitarist Kevin Bruce Harris, and drummer Ronnie Burrage to back him. They are all good players, but the recording has only a modicum of swing, mostly relying on lighter R&B rhythms. Chancey's improvisational skills are quite impressive, and as a writer of five of the six cuts, he chose to pen simplistic melodies that seem a snap to break off of and go into jamming. The CD leads off with a kind of Brazilian funk amalgam for "The Man Say Something." Chancey proves a lean, muscular improviser, quite fluid on his tricky instrument, with bebop harmonic sensibilities and a flair for the dramatic on occasion. The very slow ballad "The Spell" has the leader weaving a tapestry with a modicum of mystery, nicely compelling. The plainest repeated melodies crop up on the funkier "A Night to Remember" and the contradictory, straight-up reggae beat of "A Day in Ocho Rios." At their most alchemistic, the foursome combine swing, Afro-Cuban and New Orleans rhythmic implications on the engaging "Barefoot Bahian Girl," while the only piece not written by Chancey, Wilbur Morris' "Chazz," is a slow blues funk, with Chancey's best solo of the date in the bridge. Although this is a steady performance throughout, sparks do not fly, save perhaps from Burrage. Gilmore rarely cuts loose, and Harris is nondescript. There will be better efforts to come forth from Chancey, who is capable of much, much more.

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