Don Aliquo (tenor sax) and Clay Jenkins (trumpet) can boast a wide and eclectic roster of quintessentially dubbed Big Names they've performed with: Marvin Stamm, Greg Osby, Dr. John, Diana Krall, Gary Burton, Billy Childs, and so many that it's daunting just to think of trying to name them all in a single review (FAME editor Big Dave Pyles allows me a LOT of latitude, but even he draws the line at a novel-length review) and, good grief!, look at the rest of their quintet: Harold Danko (piano), Rufus Reid (bass), and Jim White (drums). Kinda like expecting a warm greeting but getting the red carpet treatment, isn't it? That's what New Ties and Binds is.
From the git-go, this is a kickin' disc full of chops and imagery, all the players masters of their instruments and the full panoply of colorations inherent in each, working carefully to fill the listener's brainpan with pastoral, urban, suburban, intriguingly odd, and depth-imbued scenarios, often all in a single tune, as the opener, New Toes, more than amply demonstrates. However, even the balladic aspects, such as the stunning Chest Frenzy, are, though much restrained, highly evocative, Aliquo and Jenkins prominent, though not one voice is neglected, everything crucial to the pointillisms involved. You'll have to dig back quite a ways to find another song quite like it…even among the deluge of truly great discs issued over the last decade.
Aliquo's extremely supple in the addressal of his axe but always zeroed in on what he's describing, not just re: impressive chops qua chops, and Jenkins is complementary to a very high degree. Then the two trade places and emphases, to the same result in different garb, a not uncommon practice but always fascinating nathless. Danko, we all know, is never off the mark no matter where he travels, and Rufus Reid…well, what can one say of the illustrious fellow that hasn't been written many times over (listen to his solo in The Bandit to see why)?, but my attention was particularly captured by Jim White, whose intro duet with Aliquo in The Bandit is arresting and whose accompaniments are a good deal more involved than a first listen indicates. Dave Kowalski's engineering is letter perfect, necessarily panning White down in places in order to serve certain songs properly, which requires the listener to dive in more intently, a very good thing…but you always get plenty of Jim's work in equal measure with the rest of the fivesome.
This disc isn't quite trad, not slavish Prime Era, nor Second Wave or rules-and-non-rules-obeying bop, but instead exactly what the jazz tradition most treasures: musicians getting together to play, to have a great time, to uplevel the listener, and to keep the art alive so that we don't forget how to THINK, dammit!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2015, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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