Trombones ring loud and clear during this hybrid, live-studio date. Leading a large ensemble, top-flight bone-man Tom Brantley launches a vibrant modern mainstream gala, featuring originals and interesting spins on time-honored standards. With a five-man trombone section, the leader augments the blustery charts with trumpeter Rex Richardson, tenor saxophonist Jack Wilkins and guitarist LaRue Nickelson among others.
Brantley’s corpulent tone and fluid attack combines hefty doses of improvisation with acute reinventions of a given melody line. And many of these pieces are engineered upon interlocking horns charts amid some grooving’ Hammond B-3 progressions by Chris Rottmayer on the lightly swinging spin on Duke Ellington’s "In A Mellotone."
On "Boneyard," Richardson soars towards the outer reaches of the cosmos atop a festive, New Orleans type musical underpinning. Otherwise, Brantley executes sublime and mood-eliciting balladry, then goes toe-to-toe with trombonist Keith Oshiro on the band’s up-tempo and rousing take on Randy Weston’s classic, "Hi Fly.
No doubt about it, Brantley has formulated a divergent set, complete with works that span various cadences and storylines. He even delves into some jazz-rock terrain towards the album finale. The strength of material and memorable arrangements translate into an endeavor that pronounces intelligence, wit, and plain old savvy, to complement the performers’ zealous soloing jaunts.