Trumpeter Terrell Stafford's latest was recorded at the Dakota in Minneapolis in front of an enthusiastic audience. Stafford, known for time spent in the Bobby Watson group, is a fiery trumpeter with a strong sense of nuance. Joined by a simpatico group of superb musicians in Tim Warfield (soprano and tenor saxophones), Bruce Barth (piano), Derrick Hodge (bass), and Dara Hall (drums), Stafford is supported, pushed, cajoled and celebrated by these musical friends. The result is pulse quickeningly superb music.
From the fiery opener, Stafford’s Latin-tinged "A Nick Off The Mark," it is apparent that the musicians brought chops galore to the session, as well as a good deal of excitement. Stafford brings an enthusiasm to the stage that’s infectious. Barth’s "Pegasus" is reminiscent of McCoy Tyner in sections for Barth’s power and the Warfield’s equally dazzling soprano, both of which apparently had the audience coming out of their seats with appreciation. The title cut opens with Barth’s lilting piano sharing space with Hodge’s bass, over which Warfield adds soprano before Stafford completes the palate with sensitive lines. The horns share space throughout, and Barth takes an impressive solo.
"Jesus Loves Me" and "Old Folks" point to Stafford’s strong sense of roots. The former features muted trumpet and changes in pace that give the tune as much of a nod to its roots as to the possibilities of jazz coloring. The latter, also with muted trumpet, is balladic and moving. In between the two is Stafford’s "Blues for J.T.," on which everyone shakes it a bit, with a funky groove that just explodes with chops from Stafford and his band mates. "Paper Trail" is played at breakneck pace, with Warfield’s tenor leading the way and everyone again taking a fiery solo. The closer, "Shake It For Me" is more subdued, but equally exciting in a stop-start groove.