Monday, December 21, 2009

Salim Washington Live at St. Nicks

For the CIMP label's new live series CIMPoL, tenor sax contemporary Salim Washington gets his group rolling at New York City's St. Nick's Pub. The resultant recording Live at St. Nick's (CIMPoL) comprises the best of several sets of music and it comes across with all the verve that good jazz should have on a good live date.

Salim plays a hard driving tenor in the post-Trane, post-bop, freebop mode, but also a very limber flute and decent oboe. His band features a front line of strong players. In addition to Washington himself, there is the relatively unknown violist Melani Dyer, who gives the ensemble a unique sound and puts in solid solo time. Trombonist and fluegelhorn journeyman Frank Lacy adds a distinctively fluid presence on both his instruments and pianist Donald Smith shows his well-known abilities in deftly juggling both in and outside style elements in any given moment. And in many ways that is what this band does very well. For example, the Joe Henderson-penned opener "Shades of Jade," starts in a hard bop mode and branches out from there.

The rhythm section of Aaron James on bass and Mark Johnson, drums, does much to make this live date exciting. They push the band from underneath in ways best suited to drive the soloist to a heated statement. And that's what happens consistently.

This recording has that special band-audience rapport that a small club can give rise to on the right night. This is exciting, hard driving music, well captured. It has that special fire that modern jazz recordings too often seem to lack these days. Bask in it and let yourself experience the in-the-moment joy of improvisation!