At a considerably young age as jazz musicians go, Wayne Escoffery has established himself as a premier tenor and soprano sax player. Escoffery, who was born in London England, immigrated to New Haven, Connecticut, as a boy, and now makes his home in the Big Apple, has released Veneration, his third solo project and first live CD.
The bucolic ambience created by Joe Locke’s vibraphone and Escoffery’s elegantly subtle horn extend a welcome invitation from the opening notes of Locke’s Vibe which introduces the beautiful "I Waited For You," to the last bar of the closing track "Melody For Melonae."
The song "Bee Vamp" features first an excellent solo by Escoffery which is followed by some splendid soloing from Locke. In my recent interview with Escoffery, he indicated that he allowed Locke considerable latitude in interpreting the charts, trusting his Locke’s experience and instincts. Obviously, this was a wise decision as the vibraphonist shines throughout the album.
While some jazz artists create various textures and layers to their music through sophisticated charts and a myriad of instruments, Escoffery serves up luxurious charts whose simplicity and acoustic reliance only adds to the beauty of the music.
The approach that Escoffery took with Veneration was to pay homage to some of the great musicians of the past, artists whom he says people often consider as great improvisers but often overlook their contribution to original compositions. Escoffery recorded Memphian Booker Little’s "Bee Vamp" and "Looking Ahead." The aforementioned beautiful "I Waited For You," sprung from the creative imaginations of Walter Fuller and Dizzy Gillespie. The closing track "Melody For Melonae," was written by alto saxophonist Jackie McLean in the early sixties.
Veneration was recorded live on June 2 and 3, 2006 at New York City’s Smoke. The low lighting and intimate setting are reflected well in the music that was captured from the three sets performed each night. Kudos to Paul Stache who handled the recording and in collaboration with Jon Rosenberg’s mixing and mastering engineered a high quality CD.
If you want to hear some great music by very gifted musician, arranger and composer who will only continue to get better, then give a listen to Wayne Escoffery’s Veneration.