Armed with a music degree from Maryland University, instruction from the eminent Dr. William Felder at Rutgers University, and the experience of recording sessions with groups headed by top notch contemporary jazz players such as Victor Lewis, Bobby Watson, and Tim Warfield, trumpet player Terell Stafford takes off on his second album as a leader. His first was under the Candid Records banner while this one is with that enterprising and very active German company, Nagel Heyer.
In addition to the obvious quality of the players, this album has much to offer, notably its potpourri of stylist creativity. The first few tracks are right out of the hard bop which dominated jazz during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, as practiced groups lead by Hank Mobley, the Prestige era John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley (whose playing altoist Antonio Hart comes close to), Woody Shaw, and, especially, Art Blakey. But the young Mr. Stafford doesn't linger in that mode very long, showing that he is not stuck or wedded to a single approach to his jazz. He honors Shirley Scott -- with whom he recorded in 1996 -- with a funky, bluesy, appropriately titled "Ms. Shirley Scott"; as Bill Cunliffe attacks the organ parts in the exuberant style of the dynamic Ms. Scott. Latin is not ignored, but again Stafford mixes his own special musical sauce to spice up the beat. On "If I Perish," a few drops of Spanish influenced harmonies are added resulting in one of the premiere tracks on the album. The influence of the cool, introverted playing of Miles Davis is obvious on "I Believe in You" and "Dear Rudy" while the classic "That's All" is the recipient of a moving, straightforward romantic Terell Stafford trumpet.
Another attractive feature of the album is the play list. It seems that young players these days are reluctant to play anything other than songs they (or close friends) have written. Stafford presents a well-struck balance of familiar material along with tasteful, intelligent, and attention catching original melodies written by the likes of Lewis, Cunliffe, and the bass player for the session, Kiyoshi Kitagawa, as well as himself.
This album is a repository of outstanding playing by A-one young jazz artists and is highly recommended.