Morehead State University Faculty Jazz Quintet

Blue Duck Suit

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In a part of Kentucky better known for Bill Monroe and the bluegrass music he more or less invented sits Morehead State University with its very active jazz program headed by pianist Jay Flippen. On this, their maiden album, they present a series of original material peppered with pop and jazz standards. Right from the outset, the group comes close to the closely woven, harmonized block chords of the various groups led by George Shearing, only with Gordon Towell's concave, furrowing deep-toned tenor saxophone taking the place of the vibes. The result is music that has an ethereal quality to it, especially on such cuts as "Moods" and "Christopher Smiles." The ethereal mood is broken somewhat with a neo-bop "The Fourth Share," with Towell's tenor taking on some of the lyrical qualities of Stan Getz, with a nod to John Coltrane thrown in for good measure. At almost eight minutes, this is the longest track on the set, and it emphasizes individual rather than group effort. Thus, there's an extended undulating guitar solo by Ross riding on top of Flippen's piano before the pianist comes in to do some work of his own, displaying a highly nimble and sprightly right hand. Drum breaks are made available for Frank Oddis, but performed in a way consistent with the understated nature of the set. This album further confirms that jazz gems can be mined in the most unexpected places. This is a fine group of jazz musicians more of whose work deserves to be heard. Recommended.