When 'A Master Speaks,' We Listen! George Coleman Finally Records After 19 Years! [REVIEW]
Tenor sax man George Coleman, 80, doesn't like the studio. He's made that perfectly clear. The last time he was even in a studio was 14 years ago in 2002 for the all-star tribute CD Four Generations of Miles. His last album as a leader was 19 years ago in 1997 (I Could Write A Book: The Music of Richard Rodgers). This is why the release of A Master Speaks (Smoke Sessions Records) is such big jazz news.
Dude's a Jazz Master, and that ain't just me talkin'. That's the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) who proclaimed him such last year. Still, if it weren't for his drummer son, George Coleman, Jr., this master might not have spoken at all. Word has it that the son practically forced the dad into the studio with himself, pianist Mike LeDonne, bassist Bob Cranshaw (another legend) and guitarist Peter Bernstein.
As it turned out, the son is a smooth customer on the skins. His drumming propels the music forward yet he can lay back with some intricate brushwork if needs be, or even not play at all on the standard "These Foolish Things" (a serene and totally captivating piano/sax duet). The dad's "Blues for BB" is a tribute of sorts to BB King, his first mentor (who took him to buy his first sax) and bandleader under whom he flowered as a powerhouse saxophonist. (He also blew for Max Roach, Slide Hampton, the Miles Davis Quintet and, most historically, for Herbie Hancock on the groundbreaking Maiden Voyage album.)
The son goes amok on the dad's "Blondie's Waltz." The piano player strolls through an absolutely gorgeous solo intro to Jimmy Van Heusen's "Darn That Dream" ballad from the 1939 Broadway musical Swingin' The Dream. Bassist Cranshaw walks a spidery solo on the dad's "Sonny's Playground." Cranshaw, 83, played with Sonny Rollins for decades.
They could've called this CD When Legends Collide.