Glenn Wilson, baritone sax, and Jim Pugh, trombone, form the nucleus of the band TromBari. For the project at hand they assemble a version of the ensemble that includes violin, cello, cello or bass, and bass, drums and percussion to play the music of the late Thomas Chapin. The Devil's Hopyard (Jazzmaniac JR3625) is the CD in question and it's something to be heard.
Glenn Wilson is a vastly underrated barimaster and Jim Pugh an excellent trombone counterpart. They are in great form here. The rhythm section kicks it all with lots of heat when needed. Josh Hunt's drumming is just right, very swinging with a great sound, and his counterpart Chris Nolte on bass is there, too. The duo give the music a great swing when needed. The string section of Dorothy Martirano, violin, Tomeka Reid, cello, and Armand Beaudoin on cello and bass, can solo collectively and/or individually and play the arranged parts with the proper straddling between new music tone and jazz inflection. Percussionist Matt Plaskota adds color to the mix in good ways.
The star attraction here is the Chapin music, two burners and the ambitious five-part "Devil's Hopyard Suite." They are compositions with grit; they swing and bop with fire and they go on to more extended melodic developments that get the ear to listen and appreciate.
Glenn and Jim give the music a leverage that makes this album especially excellent. They play their parts with conviction and they solo collectively and individually in ways that attest to their own prowess and their long-time association.
In short this CD has it all going, great compositional platforms played with authority, a horn & strings sound that puts this music in a league of its own, and the exuberant presence of two horn masters.
I hope this band does some touring because it is impressive and should be heard widely. The Devil's Hopyard delivers some excellent music that you should not miss.