When Tom Gullion and his band last appeared in these pages with Carswell (2009—here), his sax work helped rescue my ever-fading hopes for the instrument to be salvaged from the mauling it took in the 80s and 90s. After him, a number of other players buttressed a growing renaissance and, thank God!, the horn has been once more enshrined, re-contextualizing itself out of Lite Jazz doldrums and back into the heart of the style. Time It Is, though, represents a change in direction for Gullion, significantly more lyrical than Carswell and an environment in which Tim Whalen steps out to be a huge presence, his solos lighting the songs up degrees further.
There are two simultaneous running layers to each cut, bass and drums living on the lower floor, piano, sax and trumpet above. Gullion fills up the lead role, with the trumpet and piano—especially the piano—working around him, but when Whalen steps the keys out on their own, a whole new floor is built and the compositions dimensionalize. Nothing spectacular, no bangs and gunflashes, not a single crashing chord, but the effect is quite noticeable. Gullion's flute works the same effect.
The range of Tom's sax play goes from dulcet and narrative to berserk, more than once with the two occurring in the same cut, but the fabric of his compositions has shifted, and the textural feel of the entire roster is palpably more message oriented, but subtly so, more of a spiritual re-focus. Favorite cut? Mingle in the Mincing Machine 'cause that's where he really goes nuts and lets it all hang out, Cooper hurrying in his trumpet after a satisfyingly lengthy sax outburst to rescue the boss before the gentlemen in the white coats with the long wraparound sleeves can arrive. The song then transitions to an absorbing narrative until a fanfare erupts on a left turn, and the group heads for the home stretch. Second favorite cut? The 11:34 version of Paul Williams' Rainy Days and Mondays. Man, that one's solidly in the old style. Everything else comes in third in a multi-trifecta.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2015, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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