Jim Cifelli

Bullet Trane

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This group, led by trumpet player Jim Cifelli, nicely straddles the line between big band and small combo jazz, combining the textural richness of the former with the tight discipline typical of the latter. They play in a relatively straight-ahead style, with no departures into arrhythmic experimentation or atonal wankery. But that's not to say there are no surprises -- trombonist Pete McGuinness provides an eccentric and wonderful uptempo arrangement of "It Could Happen to You," and while Cifelli gives Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance" an innovative but respectful new twist. Cifelli's compositions are the focal point of the disc, and they are excellent; the title track is a John Coltrane tribute inspired by Coltrane's "Countdown," and it sets the tone for the rest of the album with a dense, complex arrangement that unfolds intuitively despite its complexity. "Time Will Tell" is a lush, gorgeous ballad that shows off Cifelli's skill as an orchestrator, and his setting of the Tadd Dameron classic "Ladybird" in an unlikely Latin-jazz arrangement works far better than you'd expect. "Resurgence" is a disappointment, partly due to the sore-thumb fuzz guitar solo (played by the normally very tasteful Pete McCann), but it's just about the only one. This album is highly recommended.

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