Ray Anderson

What Because

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If you don't like Ray Anderson, then you probably just don't like trombone players in general, for there's not a more engaging trombonist in jazz -- certainly not one who communicates greater love for life. He invests so much genuine good humor and enthusiasm in every note he plays. And that's to say nothing of his extraordinary chops and imagination, and his wonderful compositional ability. Anderson's got the total package. He plays "in" every bit as strongly as he does "out"; for Anderson, there seems to be no separation between the two. This album, with guitarist Allan Jaffe, pianist John Hicks, bassist Mark Dresser, and drummer Pheeroan akLaff, is quintessential Anderson, from the funky, goofy intelligence of "Alligatory Crocodile," to the theremin-like expressivity of his playing on the ballad "Let's Fall in Love," and the noirish formal complexities of "Off Peak." It's a marvelous album, one that, when all the musical politics get sorted out (who knows when that will be), should take its place as one of the very finest works of the last decade.

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