Jennifer Hall is an ardent admirer of Gerry Mulligan and his influence is prevalent in her playing but make no mistake, her own imprimatur is stamped on every tune.
It was no surprise that "Bernie's Tune" kicked the festivities off, with Hall leading the way. Her blazing solo was a tribute that Mr. Mulligan would have been most appreciative of. He must have been bestowing his heavenly blessing on the proceedings, because this swing fest got off the ground in a hurry.
The Tenor Saxophone was featured on Hall's passionate version of "You Don't Know What Love Is" Although the Baritone Sax is Jennifer's primary mode of expression, the Tenor is her secret weapon. This tune was mesmerising by virtue of its beautiful rendition by the leader. This is a great composition and it was presented with a depth of soul that kept the audience in rapt attention, and this writer as well.
The break tune was "Tenor Madness" and one could catch the hard swing of Jacquet in Hall's fiery soliloquy. The nitro in the glycerine, however, was Hall's solo on "Stormy Monday" This piece rocked, swung, and orbited about the room like a fourth of July rocket. Extended quotes of Jimmy Forrest's "Night Train" added to an already no holds barred journey into swingsville.
Denis LaPron's steady and effortless percussion work melded beautifully with all the soloists. His exchanges were forceful but never overplayed. I think LaPron's ability to play the Baritone Sax adds to the already facile way that he augments and embellishes his constituents on the bandstand. His vocal on "Stormy Monday" was a very hip trip.
Alexandra Casselli at the Piano, has been a part of this group for a few years and her contributions are monumental. She comps with the best, improvises on the ballads with a depth of feeling that can be felt in the soul of those that listen. When Casselli brings on the heat and gets into the blues...the toes start tapping and the fingers start snapping. In a word, she gets after it (as Jug would say).
Sherry Luchette on the Bass is another long term member of this "Three shes and a he" ensemble. Luchette adds to this group immeasurably by perfect time, fresh ideas on the trades and interesting solos. This Bassist has a very intense style that is infused with a certain indefinable grace, and that juxtaposition works like pure magic.
This was one hot gig, with some tender moments and some rousing choruses, this mix was a fix for all the aficionados in attendance.