COMPOSERS: Lew Del Gatto
ALBUM TITLE: Lew del Gatto
PERFORMER: Lew Del Gatto (ts), Randy Brecker (t, flhn), Steve Turre (tb), Joe Cohn (g), Ron Feuer (org, p), Chip Jackson (b), Victor Lewis (d)
CATALOGUE NO: Jazz 8.860582
Since its launch in 1997, the jazz branch of the cut-price Naxos project has released dozens of albums, mainly documenting the playing of up-and-coming or unjustly neglected musicians. Although stylistically varied, embracing everything from Finnish big-band music to Australian fusion and most points in between, the quality of the label’s music is commendably consistent, so that the Naxos name alone is now a pretty reliable guarantee of the highest standards of production and musicianship.
This release, a debut album by American tenorman Lew Del Gatto, in many ways typifies the label’s approach: like many others on Naxos, Del Gatto is a highly experienced and well-respected player in his immediate milieu, and this album gives him a welcome chance to display his talents to a worldwide audience.
Immediately noticeable is the richness and confidence of his tone: whether he’s warbling throatily through his bluesy originals, employing an attractively sinewy bustle for flagwavers, or infusing the occasional ballad with the warm, hushed intimacy forever associated with the late Stan Getz, Del Gatto is a highly accomplished tenor player, and his leadership qualities are demonstrated not only by the relaxed discipline of his stellar band, but also by the superbly balanced set he has chosen for it to play.
Victor Lewis, his drummer, is justly celebrated for his subtle propulsiveness with the aforementioned Stan Getz; here, his deft but vigorous approach is at the heart of a consistently attractive, airy group sound, ensuring that Del Gatto’s declared aim of producing ‘warm, vibrant, swinging’ music is achieved throughout a wholly enjoyable, thoroughly unpretentious album. Chris Parker