Grand Slam features an all-star quartet with guitarist Jim Hall, saxophonist Joe Lovano, bassist George Mraz, and drummer, Lewis Nash. Recorded live at the Regattabar in Cambridge, Massachusetts from January 20-22, 2000, this diverse, creative set features seven songs written by Jim Hall and Joe Lovano that range from unaccompanied to orchestral. This group's debut reveals the edge and tenderness in their music and also describes various periods of the guitarist's career. The title track, "Slam," reflects Hall's years with the Jimmy Giuffre 3, the great trio that defines cool jazz and folk jazz for many people. "Say Hello to Calypso," with its bebop melodic inventions, creates a strong impression reminiscent of his tenure with Sonny Rollins. The group's ability to captivate listeners is equally prevalent on "All Across the City," "Chelsea Rendezvous," and "Blackwell's Message," Joe Lovano's memorial to drummer Ed Blackwell. This 60-minute debut for Telarc Jazz is serious music, but not music out of the embrace of sheer exuberance. It smiles and sings!
AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein