Few jazz recordings heard this year will be as big-hearted, sincere, and thoroughly entertaining as the Wycliffe Gordon and Jay Leonhart This Rhythm On My Mind. On the cover, this looks like the unlikely duet of two bass instruments, double bass and trombone, but it is much more. It's an old time original jazz vocal and scat-fest, with both Leonhart and Gordon singing – together, separately, whatever.
The title track gives the listener a pretty good idea of what is coming. The duo sings, scats, and show off their respective instrumental wares. They demonstrate an empathic camaraderie on a handful of originals and standards that include Ellington’s “Mood Indigo,” Eddie Harris’ "Freedom Jazz Dance," and Lester Young’s "Lester Leaps In." The potential listener may think this recital would be boring because how can two bass instruments performing as a duo make any kind of interesting music?
Gordon and Leonhart, an unlikely pair to be sure, meld perfectly, personally, and instrumentally. Above all, the pair has fun - together as musicians performing – and in the music they provide the listener. Leonhart’s bass playing is beyond compare. His rhythm and time are right on and his singing is a true pleasure. As for Gordon, one never knows what to expect. His Louis Armstrong-influenced vocals are infectious with good will and he’s playing his signature trombone one minute, then a tuba, then a didgeridoo. This is one of the most entertaining discs, of any kind, released this year.
Rhythm on My Mind; Problem; I Want My Blooz Back; Mr Leonhart Mr Gordon; Mood Indigo; Toast My Bread; Eddie Harris (Freedom Jazz Dance); Missin’ RB Blues; Lester Leaps In; All Alone; Little Honey; Lucky Day; Home for Supper.
Wycliffe Gordon: trombone, tuba, vocals, didgeridoo; Jay Leonhart: bass, vocals; Jim Saporito: percussion (11); Henry Allen: tenor sax (9); Wayne Escoffery: tenor sax (7).
This review was first published in Blogcritics.org
© Copyright, C. Michael Bailey, 2007