FAME Review: Doc Stewart - Code Blue
Doc Stewart - Code Blue

Code Blue

Doc Stewart

Cannonball Jazz - CJ-2014

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Doc Stewart's a real-life medical doctor, and ironically looks like he just might be the good-guy brother to Scrubs' devastatingly nasty quipmeister, the aggressive bad-ass Dr. Perry Cox (John C. McGinley). Just as tongue-in-cheekily, he's accompanied in Code Blue liner photos by a buxom Hello Nurse! (Stewart's best friend—and wife?—Patty) watching over life or death ministrations to his trusty alto sax, lying helpless right there in the ER. No need to fret, though, as the Doc's a 24-year emergency vet, and the brass axe pulled through nicely, presently recuperating in a love nest with a sexy little clarinet. The result of his ministrations is more than evident throughout this disc. The only question remaining is: How the hell did he get so good in view of the rigorous educational process and around-the-clock professionalism necessary to an emergency M.D.? And jes' so's ya knows the level of quality you're in for, the Doc's previous release, Phoenix: A Tribute to Canonball Adderly, debuted in the #1 spot in the indie jazz new releases chart. That'd be a Code Whew! Smokin'!

Code Jesus, a variant of Zawinul's Birdland, is the fourth movement of the Code Blue Suite, a zesty segment of this perky 14-cut hour+ CD. Lots of circular chases, lay-outs, and straight ahead blowing, not a moment of rest, instead staves and measures of ceaseless rave-up that'll have you shimmy-boppin' around the parlor, drink in hand, smile on face. And I really like that sassy end quotation by da Doc, the sort of addendum one rarely hears closing out such escapades. Stewart may be faced with mortality day in and day out, but not an iota of it traces through his disc.

This is big band, music, y'all, boasting a 19-member roster in full regalia. Jazz may have arisen from the blues (but, um, just as much from classical music, I'd contend, from latterday hep catz who had and still have much in common with Bartok, Stravinsky, and others), but there ain't an ounce of blue matter anywhere here, just swingin' hyperbolic good times and jammin'. Code Blue is full proof of just how well the fusion was accomplished. Go ahead, try to find me any tight-ass classicalists who can do what these bad boyz are doing. I dares ya. Tons of individuated and integrated multi-solos from varius musicians and layered charts provide no end of intellectual and booty-swaying, fingersnapping, toe-tapping vigor. Stewart gets the lion's share of the spotlight, as he should, but there's so damn much going on that you'll never credit ego, only exuberance. There are quite a few steals written into everything as well, like the Misty refrains in Homage to Bud Shank, which some will tut-tut but I find delightful, sly homages worked into labyrinthine repertoire. Nowadays, ya win some and then ya win some, and, with Code Blue, you're awarded even more.

Track List:

    • Code Pink / Born to See Blues (Kubis / Stewart)
    • Ironman Blues / But Seriously, Dig Me Man! (Kubis / Stewart)
    • The Last Breath Blues / All Alone Now (Kubis / Stewart)
    • Code Jesus / New Life! (Kubis / Stewart)
  • The Sticks (Julian Adderly)
  • Homage to Bud Shank (Tom Kubis)
  • Snakin' the Grass (Hal Galper)
  • Patty's Bossa (Doc Stewart)
  • Dis Here (Bobby Timmons)
  • Introduction to a Samba (Julian Adderly)
  • Poor Butterfly (Raymond Hubbell)
  • Song My Lady Sings (Charles Lloyd)
  • The Way You Look Tonight (Jerome Kern)
  • Bohemia After Dark (Oscar Pettiford)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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