Ron McClure

Crunch Time

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Ron McClure has graced countless recording sessions as a sideman and led many of his own as a leader. Yet the veteran bassist was inspired to record Gabe Terracciano, a 17-year-old jazz violinist, within a few weeks after asking to sit in McClure's Jazz Ensemble at N.Y.U. The quartet is rounded out with two young N.Y.U. graduate students, pianist Mike Eckroth, and drummer Shareef Taher, both of whom also show promise with their playing.

McClure sets the stage with a single standard, "Beautiful Love," to get the musicians comfortable playing with one another, though the chemistry was evidently immediate, since the bassist shares in his liner notes that all nine songs on this CD were first takes. The spotlight is on Terracciano immediately and he quickly proves himself as an improviser, never overplaying or imitating his predecessors on his instrument. Seven of the songs are McClure's compositions, highlighted by the melancholy ballad "The Wind," with its hypnotic air, the driving "Crunch Time," with its tense undercurrent, the hip "My Pal Al" (dedicated to the pianist Albert Dailey who died in the early 1980s), and the exotic "Handprints" marked by McClure's inventive bassline behind Terracciano's surprisingly mature solo, though Eckroth shines in his moving solo as well. It's hard to believe that Crunch Time was made by a quartet in one session without the benefit of having played together as a unit.