What You Dealin’ With

COMPOSERS: Ellington,Gillespie,Wycliffe Gordon
LABELS: Criss Cross
PERFORMER: Ryan Kisor (t), Wycliffe Gordon (tb), Victor Goines (ss, ts), Herb Harris (ts), Zach Pride (b), Rodney Green (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 1212

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Another step forward, this time via the re-evaluation of the least popular of brass instruments, the trombone. The native Georgian Wycliffe Gordon has done the requisite time with Lincoln Center, alongside King Wynton, but his embrace of the tradition is more like a genial bear-hug than a deferential bow.

This programme of Ellington, Gillespie, ‘Cherokee’, ‘Mr PC’ and sundry originals is slyly set up to subvert expectations all the way. ‘Mood Indigo’ becomes a jaunty stroll for ’bone and tenor. ‘Blue ’n’ Boogie’ uproots bebop slickness by strolling in and out of double-time on the theme, with superb nonchalance.

‘Cotton Tail’ shows that Wycliffe’s scatting chops are in pretty good order, too. ‘Cherokee’ is sheer virtuoso high spirits – after they’ve hoodwinked us with a stately beginning. ‘Bone Abstractions’ lets you know just what the man can do with his unruly slide horn, a phantasmagoric throw of the dice.

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All the way through to the funky swing of the closing title track, Gordon not only leads from the front – which trombonists have been traditionally shy about doing – he imparts heroic good humour to go with the crackling invention of the playing, from all hands. Non-stop fun. Richard Cook