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.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson