Still Evolved

LABELS: Palmetto


The comical fad for claiming that jazz in America has lost the plot and Europe now leads the way comes a suitably spectacular cropper every time one takes a reading on current releases. The fact remains that American jazz, in all its various stripes, continues to be intensely documented by native and non-American labels alike, and while every scene can spawn a brood of routine sessions, the best of them make it obvious that the music is in rude good health in the land of its birth.

On a recording such as TED NASH’s Still Evolved, the music manages to infiltrate a timeless Classicism into settings which feel up-to-the-minute, metropolitan and smartly unconventional. The opening ‘The Shooting Star’ lays long, unexpected chords across the top of a Blakey-like march – and who should take the trumpet solo but Wynton Marsalis.

Nash has done time in the Lincoln Center Orchestra, so the tenorman clearly felt able to call on his sometime boss for a sideman stint. Marcus Printup subs for Marsalis on four tunes, keeping the New Orleans tone in the front line, and the superb rhythm section consists of Frank Kimbrough, Ben Allison and Matt Wilson.


Nash wrote all the tunes, and his own playing has a fierce soul-food feel to it, as if he were a Horace Silver graduate – except that the music continually steps away from or dramatically recasts the hard bop idiom. The hallmark of these players is their confidence in the way they’ve been used: two horns and a rhythm section, an immortal equation, yet none of what they play comes across as old or revivalist.