Thursday, May 6, 2010

One For All: Continuing The Tradition

One For All (group; formed 1997)
Incorrigible (JLP)
Eric Alexander (sax)
Jim Rotondi (trumpet)
David Hazeltine (piano)
Joe Farnsworth (drums)
John Weber (bass)
Steve Davis (trombone)

For more than a decade, One For All have been one of the most exciting and swingin' hard bop groups on the jazz scene. The sextet have consistently been compared to the great Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers--a bold comparison but probably pretty accurate. Each member of this band is also a renowned solo artist so when they do record together it is always special.

One For All have been a permanent fixture in the New York jazz scene with frequently individual live performances (mostly at Smoke Jazz Club) in addition to their yearly performances as One For All at the famous Uptown venue. The group have just released their 15 album, Incorrigible (Jazz Legacy Productions) and it continues the groups string of straight-ahead hard bop with the same phenomenal results.

Incorrigible begins with the standard "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" but things really get jumping on the second piece "Petite Angel" penned by pianist David Hazeltine and featuring some lovely solo work from saxophonist, Eric Alexander and trombonist, Steve Davis. Upbeat with a slightly mid tempo groove "Petite Angel" is a signature example of how ease it is to fall in love this amazing sextet.

One of the most important and delightful things I have enjoyed all my years of listening to One For All is the fact that each member of the band writes material for the albums. So the listener tends to get a good overview of the depth this band possesses. There is no difference on Incorrigible. The loving tribute to the great trumpeter, Freddie Hubbard entitled "voice", written by trumpeter Jim Rotondi is sublime, touching and emotionally perfect.

The title track written by Eric Alexander is another standout moment as this is where the group begin to really to smokin' and you feel the power of their musicianship. Steve Davis (trombone) has been one of my favourtie musicians of the last ten years. He is definitely taking up the mantle of Curtis Fuller and J..J. Johnson with great ease. The track "Spirit Waltz" which originally featured on his 2001 album, Systems Blue (Criss Cross) is revisited here with the same vigour as its predecessor. In addition to always pitch perfect modality of Davis, drummer Joe Farnsworth helps drive this piece along with some nice timing accompanied by the rest of the groups precision work. For me "Spirit Waltz" is the second standout moment on Incorrigible.

The album rounds out with Rotondi and Davis numbers, "Back To Back" and "So Soon" respectively, where former is an upbeat latin-tinged soul-filler. The closer, "So Soon" reinforces the group ethos with each member practically highlighted throughout. It has an almost classic Blue Note Records quality to it. The perfect way to end the session.

One For All are that rare breed in jazz circles--a consistent group that has stuck together for years and continues to challenge each other and you can hear the fun they have playing together. This is a band that enjoys being in the studio as well on stage and every single record every record captures this magnificently. One For All continue to carry the straight ahead tradition of hard bop and of the small batch of new records so far this year, Incorrigible is by far in my top five.

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