COMPOSERS: Ray Anderson
WORKS: Big Band Record
PERFORMER: Ray Anderson (tb) with the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band
CATALOGUE NO: R2 79497 P
In recent years, Ray Anderson has all but revolutionised trombone technique. He not only plays faster with more variations of tone and timbre than his contemporaries, but also injects extraordinary energy and feeling into his music, be it a basic blues, a tricksy original or a straightahead blowing vehicle. On the evidence of this album, he is also an accomplished composer, providing carnivalesque barnstormers through to uncomplicated swingers and mellow waltzes to highly arranged pieces of great complexity.
As if this weren’t enough, he also sings — sparingly, but surprisingly effectively. George Gruntz’s arrangements are plush but unfussy; his band, as always, is perfectly drilled in ensemble passages but passionately individual during solo flights. Featured virtuosi include trumpeter Lew Soloffand alto players Tim Berne and Marty Ehrlich, alongside the peerless Anderson, and in all this is a rich, densely textured yet supremely energetic album, showcasing two of jazz’s greatly undersung talents. Chris Parker