Dynamic trumpeter Rex Richardson leads an exciting set of hard-bop inspired blowing on Jazz Upstairs: Live at the Bar-Guru-Bar, recorded in 2006 at the Bar-Guru-Bar in Athens, Greece with a supporting ensemble of top-notch Greek musicians: alto saxophonist Takis Paterelis, pianist Dimitris Kalatzis, bassist Giorgios Giorgades and drummer Alex Drakos Ktistakis.
After getting warmed up on the bebop induced Cole Porter standard "What is this Thing Called Love," the simmering intensity is sustained throughout the diverse set of straight-ahead cookers. From Richardson’s funky "The Tao of Heavy D," to Paterelis’ lyrical "Fog," to Freddie Hubbard’s acrobatic "Dear John," to James Spaulding’s explosive "Kryptonite," the quintet maintains a high level of spontaneity and intuitive interaction.
Richardson displays dazzling technique and an abundance of ideas. He has a well-conceived approach to phrasing and solos with fiery determination. Stylistically, he is able to move effortlessly from blues-based bebop to more harmonically adventurous lines.
Paterelis, a dyed-in-the-wool bebopper, has a slippery way of navigating through the most complex musical situations. His inspired solos on Richardson’s "The Claim of the Ideal" and his own "Buhaina’s Smile" brings out the influence of alto giants Art Pepper and Frank Morgan. Kalatzis, Giorgades and Ktistakis are a first-rate, swinging rhythm section who dig in deep to each groove and contribute exceptional solos along the way.
Jazz Upstairs: Live at the Bar-Guru-Bar serves as a wonderful introduction to anyone not yet familiar with Richardson’s amazing talent. An endearing set of music, fresh and exciting.