Chris Rand: Gathering, Dot Time DT9047
Chris Rand (ss, ts, as, bs, cl), Ed Benstead (t), Sam Leak (p), Andrew Noble (org), Shane Allessio (b), Jason Reeve (d), plus special guests Derek Nash (ts,as), Dave Green (b), and Ben Waters (p).
Rec. September and November 2014
A self-confessed rock ‘n’ roller who flirts with jazz and on this evidence does it well. Rand has put together a debut album that packs quite a punch, wide-ranging in its aspirations and surprisingly varied in the material that it offers. There’s all sorts here, starting with the rambunctious tenor on his title piece, powered by Noble’s solid organ chords, Benstead and Nash blending as Rand takes off in a highly animated solo, the others going nuts behind him as the track finishes. And then it’s on to the more mellow ‘By The Leigh’, Benstead’s trumpet reflective over Leak’s chords, Rand calmer before the pianist’s clever solo. This is followed by the very sprightly ‘Sidewalk’, a hard-bop piece, Rand’s tenor centered and pleasing, Benstead bright and the impressive Leak rumbling creatively, though I’m less taken by Allessio’s graunchy-sounding arco bass. Evermore eclectic, Rand then plays wheezy baritone on ‘For those who Seek’, a slower piece that again highlights Leak and shows off the guesting Green’s powerful swing, while Noble takes the lead on ‘Behind the Notes’, Nash adding his own ebullience, the riffs piling in. Jelly Roll’s ‘Whinin’ Boy Blues’ is an oddity in context, Rand duetting on earthy clarinet with Waters who plays appropriately idiomatic piano, and presumably vocalizes. Quite forgettably, I should add. There’s more Waters stomping piano and Rand tenorising on ‘Honky-tonk Woman’ while ‘Blues for DG’ has a New Orleans feel, with Green’s firm-toned bass again prominent. ‘Alone together’ is taken super-slow, the tenor Rollins-like, with Green as the lone accompanist. And so it goes: every variation you could want and much of it worthwhile.