Will Calhoun

Live at the Blue Note

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Drummer Will Calhoun is better known for his work in Living Colour, which many listeners would classify as a rock band, so his debut as a jazz leader during a live performance at the Blue Note might come as a surprise to some. For the most part, Calhoun fits right in the jazz groove, though his level of playing hardly approaches that of trumpeter Terell Stafford, pianist Orrin Evans, and especially alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, who also makes a rather rare appearance on tenor sax on several tracks. Stafford's muted horn is the focus of Calhoun's sizzling opener "Dorita," while his soulful composition "Umoja (Unity)" features him on udu (Nigerian clay drum). "Dawn of the Great Eastern Sun" is a bit of a misfire, utilizing a wave drum in a piece that stands out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of the set. Terell Stafford and bassist John Benitez collaborated on the risk-taking arrangement of Basheer Qusim's (also known as Gigi Gryce) "Minority," which is quite enjoyable; Evans' extended look at Wayne Shorter's "Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum" is also worth hearing. A very embarrassing gaff distracts somewhat from the long final track -- this very intense performance of McCoy Tyner's "Passion Dance" is inexplicably mislabeled as "Dolphin Dance" by Herbie Hancock; although it includes a powerful solo by Watson on tenor sax, Calhoun extends his solo a bit too long. Overall, this is a solid effort by Will Calhoun.

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