Paradoxically I now get to the subject at hand, in a medium that would not have existed several decades ago. The CD thank the stars was received as a real concrete entity so I can get this review done in half the time and be sure that it will play on my machine as I typo-type this. So what is it all about? It's the master tenor Odean Pope, and I will take a leap and say of all the players out there, Maestro Pope is at the very top in terms of of unsung brilliance. Anyway it's the Odean Pope Trio with Marshall Allen and their recent release In the Moment (CIMP 394).
The group includes Marshall of course on alto plus Lee Smith on acoustic bass and Craig McIver on drums. The sound is full and purist in the CIMP fashion and that works out just fine. The group takes a pure music, gimmick-less approach, which is always the Pope method. Producer Bob Rusch has been a staunch supporter of such things and Odean's music for many decades, as many of you will know.
There is an Allen-Pope duo track and one with Pope and Smith. There is also a brief but interesting Lee Smith unaccompanied track. The rest is the band all the way. Allen and Pope, as you might expect, hit it off musically and have a sort of vinegar and oil identity-in-separateness which is quite pleasing. The Smith-McIver rhythm team get friction and frisson by playing a strong "hostess with the mostest" foundational role to some very hip two-horn improvisations, some hip horn solo moments and otherwise set the pace with heat and subtlety as needed.
The program is well thought-out and Pope's compositional sense gives it a guaranteed substance that the performances and improvisations make into an excellent totality.
This is free-thinking free music, with soul and thought put into every bar, not that bar lines are a big factor when the band gets full-out into the moment. In This Moment has that state-of-the-art feel to it. Pope is doing great work. You should support this music because it deserves support, but of course also because it is so good.