Monday, September 21, 2009

Jeff Albert's Trombone and the 2004 CD "One"

Quietly, in his own way, NOLA's Jeff Albert has been establishing himself as a front-runner among the trombone players to emerge in the last decade. Not that we're talking about a horse race. It's a matter of who is doing interesting and important work and Jeff is at the top. His two releases with co-leader and fellow trombonist Jeb Bishop in the Lucky 7s (see my reviews in Cadence), his excellent last album "Similar in the Opposite Way" (which I reviewed sometime ago on my other blog at and his mp3 Creative Common downloads, showing his varied and challenging work in the Open Ears Music Series ( and other venues ( give witness to a musician with keen ears, great execution and a fine compositional sense that breathes life into the freewheeling possibilities he clearly hears.

For our purposes it all starts with his 2004 CD "One" (Lakefront Digital). The CD has been on my player for a while now and it's too good not to bring up, even though five years old at this juncture. It features Jeff on trombone and his front-line mate Ray Moore on alto and tenor saxes, ably abetted by the rhythm team of Edwin Livingston and Dave Cappello (bass and drums, respectively).

"One" shows Jeff with remarkable poise and a sure-footed sense of proportion, especially for a first effort. He gives out his improvisations with controlled yet raw power and a great ear for line construction. He and Ray work together in a NOLA counterpoint tempered and expanded by the sort of Ornette-and-after articulation of what can be happening on the bandstand. And the compositions are strong and varied, from the "Lonely Woman"-like dramatics of "Moonswell," the free funk of "Neon Monkey," to the swingingly controlled abandon of "Solar Regulation."

This is essential listening for those who want something new in their listening regimen. It shows that from the first recording on, Jeff Albert has been a triple threat: great trombonist, composer and bandleader. "One" should not be overlooked.

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