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News & Reviews | JAZZ REVIEW

Straight ahead into a new era

October 09, 2003|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

There was a strong feeling of the '50s and '60s in the air Tuesday night at the Jazz Bakery as drummer Willie Jones III led his quintet through material resonating with aural images of hard bop, soul jazz, Clifford Brown and Art Blakey.

Fortunately, the results had less to do with musical simulation than with using a historic reference point as a springboard into contemporary creativity.

Much of Jones' original material had the riff-driven sound and the vigor of hard bop. His dynamic use of the drums as a central, galvanizing musical force recalled the powerful command of Blakey.

The rhythm section team of pianist Gerald Clayton and bassist Tony Dumas added an irresistible undercurrent of swing, and the soloing by tenor saxophonist Greg Tardy and trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos brought the '50s solidly into the 21st century.

Tardy's solos offered a study in musical pyrotechnics. Ripping up and down his horn's full range, tossing in an occasional multi-phonic honk, zipping into the instrument's high harmonics, he was gripping.

Castellanos' trumpet playing directly recalled Brown, filled with crisply articulated phrases, enhanced by a gift for melodic improvisation.

Best of all, there was the consistently fine playing of the youthful Clayton (who appeared Tuesday night only and is being replaced by Eric Reed). Approaching every solo with an implicit compositional overview, he generated coherence and a sense of order with every note he played.

*

The Willie Jones III Quintet

Where: The Jazz Bakery, 3233 Helms Ave., Culver City

When: Tonight-Sunday, 8 and 9:30 p.m.

Price: $20-$25

Info: (310) 271-9039

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