The Element of Swing

Ed Thigpen

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The Element of Swing Review

by Ken Dryden

Ed Thigpen started the group Rhythm Features in 1998 and the second recording by the band adds a special guest, tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano. With each member of the quartet contributing originals, along with a pair of tried-and-true jazz compositions by earlier greats, everything worked very well on this 2001 concert at the Copenhagen Jazzhouse. Thigpen's strutting "Sweet Mama" contrasts with his "ETP," a piece which combines bop with a West Indian flavor in its theme, featuring a burning solo by Lovano. The tenor saxophonist penned the lovely ballad "Emperor Jones" and "Impressionistic," the latter featuring a rare performance by Lovano on bass clarinet, accompanied by Thigpen's sensitive percussion. Bassist Jesper Bodilsen's "Hello Joe" is an easygoing hard bop vehicle, while the racehorse tempo of pianist Carsten Dahl's "Street Freak" clearly energizes the band. The brisk treatment of John Coltrane's "Lonnie's Lament" features Lovano's most soulful playing of the evening, while the mellow interpretation of "Chelsea Bridge" initially shows the influence of the late great Ben Webster, though Lovano's approach to this landmark ballad is very much his own. This very satisfying concert is warmly recommended.

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