Rich Halley 3 — The Literature
(Pine Eagle 011, 2018, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2019-01-23
A jazz trio that consists of bass, drums, and a melodic instrument like sax or trumpet can be a really wonderful thing. The absence of a piano or guitar filling in chords gives the other players room to really explore without fear of clashing with the backing. Tenor sax player Rich Halley says of this album, “My previous twenty recordings are devoted to originals, so I decided it was time for an album of tunes by other musicians.” His choices feature some expected jazz greats, but also some unexpected pieces. Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Mongo Santamaria, and Sun Ra sit alongside country legends Jimmie Rodgers, A.P. Carter, Eddie Hill, and Jean Branch. The arrangements here are interesting and imaginative, far from standard rehashes of standard tunes. Monk’s “Misterioso” and “Brilliant Corners” are lots of fun, and Santamaria’s “Chano Pozo” is turned into a real showcase for drummer Carson Halley. I’m also fond of their arrangement of “Motherless Child,” which leads off with the bass taking the melody, and makes the most of a bouncy gospel blues framework before drifting off into some great post-bop soloing. Somewhat less successful is the trio’s take on “Mood Indigo,” where the slow tempo leads to a somewhat schmaltzy drag, though the chorus when bassist Clyde Reed takes the melody is very good. That track is only a minor detraction from the overall high quality presented on The Literature, and I can recommend this Portland, Oregon group highly.
Related artist(s): Rich Halley
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