Adding two new members to his sextet, The Jazz Prophets, Gardner’s music expands on his latest CD, bringing an "Afro-Cuban" beat to this album with percussionist Kevin Kaiser.
Says Gardner, " It has sounds of a big band but, also has the looseness of a small group, so you get a really full sound." Gardner knows his sounds. Arriving in New York City, Gardner his the jazz scene in 1991, subsequently traveling the world with top of the line musicians, including five years with the Count Basie Orchestra.
Opening with "4Newk" sheer rich horns encompass the listener, until Rick Roe opens up with a hot piano solo spot. Donald Edwards takes over, on drums, driven to a new frenzy.
From the liner notes, "Afros & Cubans’ is expressed as a typical 6/8 Afro-Cuban rhythm with Kaiser’s congas. However, with the addition of the new horns, this song is anything but typical. Rousing, courageous and another captivating solo by Roe takes this song into sensual overtime.
Inspired by his girlfriend, who is making a documentary on black women and natural hair, "Natural Woman" features a big band sound with sweltering arrangements of horn, deep bass and piano rolls.
Anyone who has been through Hampton roads or Newport News, Virginia, knows the dizzying affect of traffic in that area. Hence, Vincent Gardner’s "Mercury Blvd." portrays the dogged busy-ness of that area, where he grew up. A little stop and go; a touch of give and take yet it all works together in the end.
As tribute to Freddie Hubbard, Gardner infuses "Melting Pot" with spontaneous chords and nuances. Brother, Vincent Gardner, Rob Dixon and Rick Roe are featured in spirited solos, along with Gardner, giving this tune an extra flare.
Gardner states, "It was like going back to school" playing in Bobby Short’s cabaret. Singing verses to all the tunes he played, including "Autumn in New York," Short taught Gardner every gig can be an opportunity to learn. For his version of this classic, Gardner wrote a horn choral and an elaborate arrangement, turning the song into a mini jazz concerto. Gardner created an elegant listening tune, showcasing, at the end, some fine bass work.
Giving the horns a little breathing space, Rick Roe does some tricky piano rolls for "Crystal Stair." The horns come back, reach in, and round the experience while showing off Kaiser’s Mozambique-ish rhythm.
Ending the album, the musicians get loose, get down and banter for the feel of being live on stage. Great stuff.
Each artist on this album is gifted. Each adds another layer of listening enjoyment tension, expansion, richness, whole-hearted playing in the style that would make Mingus or Silver stand up and take notice.
Derrick Gardner has been playing trumpet since he was nine years old. His gigs have taken him around the world and back. He has played with Harry Connick, Jr., Frank Foster, Carlos Garnett, the late Dizzy Gillespie, George Benson, Nancy Wilson, Tony Bennett, Rufus Reid, and many, many more He is a highly respected and admired professor of music at a university in Michigan. He is a writer, composer and very expressive of his love for music.
"The three-man horn line consists of Derrick, tenor sax player Rob Dixon and Derrick’s brother, trombonist Vincent Gardner of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra,"
It stands to reason, the players he chooses for his sextet + two, are highly accomplished, naturally talented creators of music as is Gardner.
Purists will love this album. Newcomers to jazz will enjoy and learn from this CD. This passionate sextet +2 have included something for every appetite.