Black/Note / Blacknote

Nothin' But the Swing

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Although comprised of four fine young musicians (there is no trumpeter in the band's regular lineup), the lack of originality or any hint of innovation in Black/Note's compositions and solos is unfortunate. The music on this CD could have been recorded in 1963. There is nothing inherently wrong with reviving older styles, as long as one does not claim (as the liner notes seem to) that that is the only way to play creative jazz. James Mahone's alto style comes straight from Jackie McLean, pianists Greg Kurstin and Ark Sano both recall early Herbie Hancock, and the "original" compositions could have been played by the Jazz Messengers 35 years earlier. Guest trumpeters Nicholas Payton (who plays in a Freddie Hubbard groove on four songs) and Gilbert Castellanos (on seven) help fill out the group while Teodross Avery makes one appearance apiece on tenor and soprano. The results are a pleasing variety of spirited but derivative hard bop that rewrites the past a bit without hinting at the future; nothing less, nothing more.

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