Rob Reddy Considers 'Bechet: Our Contemporary' on His Own Reddy Records Release [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt on Mar 14, 2016 02:58 PM EDT
Rob Reddy Sax Man Rob Reddy (Photo : courtesy DL Media)

Rob Reddy-composer, conductor, soprano saxophonist-has been around since the late '80s.Sidney Bechet [1897-1959]--soprano saxophonist, clarinetist, composer--was, many say, the first important jazz soloist (recording just months prior to the rise of one Louis Armstrong in their shared hometown of New Orleans). Bechet: Our Contemporary (Reddy Music) is Reddy's seventh album with four tracks each by both composers. It takes Bechet's pioneering music away from the ghetto of dusty time to reposition it as the groundbreaking force it once was.

Many of New York City's elite working jazzmen had a hand in making this 2015 release the strong progressive milestone that it is. It's almost impossible to tell which composer wrote which track as it seamlessly slides down a snow-packed mountain of energy. Bechet was a giant. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of such. Reddy arranges Bechet's "Petite Fleur" into an orgasmic cloud of sophisticated beauty, spurred on by Charlie Burnham's violin which plays tag with Reddy's sax. For Bechet's "Chant In The Night," Lisa Parrott's baritone sax signals a gospel touch. Each instrument provides a different color, be it John Carlson's trumpet, Curtis Fowlkes' trombone, Marika Hughes' cello or Marvin Sewell's guitar.

'Bechet: Our Contemporary' by Rob Reddy
(Photo : courtesy of Reddy Music)
'Bechet: Our Contemporary' by Rob Reddy

With a staunchly rumbling rhythm section of bassist Dom Richards and drummer Pheeroan akLaff, Reddy weaves his magic around it all, honking, beeping, blaring and soothing depending upon what's called for. I, for one, am a great fan of current cats paying homage to the pioneers of long ago and far away. Hardly a tribute album in the historical sense, Bechet: Our Contemporary shows that Bechet and Reddy share a verisimilitude that transcends time and space. In recreating the four songs written in the early part of the 1900s and juxtapositioning them with songs written recently, a new truth emerges: one that not only stands the test of time, but works as joyous entertainment.

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TagsRob Reddy, Sidney Bechet, REVIEW, New Orleans

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