Rocky Winslow

Simple Complications

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Simple Complications Review

by Alex Henderson

Rocky Winslow is hardly the first improviser to embrace more than one type of jazz on an album. On some albums, musicians have divided their time between straight-ahead and non-straight-ahead jazz -- the listener might hear five bop offerings and five fusion offerings, or perhaps a CD that is half smooth jazz and half post-bop. But Rocky Winslow finds an unusual way to acknowledge electric and acoustic jazz forms on Simple Complications, his first album as a leader. After providing seven post-bop or hard bop performances and keeping things acoustic for about 50 minutes, the big-toned trumpeter/flugelhornist makes a totally unexpected detour into amplified fusion with the 13-minute title track. Winslow leads you to believe that Simple Complications is going to be an entirely straight-ahead album -- then, out of nowhere, he pleasantly surprises you by ending the CD on an aggressive jazz-rock note. Just when listeners have Winslow pegged as a straight-ahead player, his album takes an electric turn. Those first seven selections (which range from Woody Shaw's "Organ Grinder" to four Winslow originals) are, to be sure, very straight-ahead -- and very mindful of the post-bop and hard bop that came out in the '60s. Possessing a big, fat tone, Winslow obviously owes a lot to Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, and Lee Morgan (all of whom were greatly influenced by Clifford Brown). Winslow has also learned a thing or two from Miles Davis, but most of his inspiration as a soloist comes from the Hubbard/Shaw/Morgan school of '60s trumpet playing. He is no innovator, and Simple Complications is far from cutting edge. Nonetheless, Winslow brings a lot of chops and enthusiasm to this decent, if derivative, debut.

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