It's always a pleasure to welcome a new CD by the remarkably talented Chicago-based trumpeter Rob Parton, even one that is untitled and places Parton in a (mostly) quartet framework. The downside is that one can't hear Parton play lead trumpet, another area in which he excels, as any perusal of his superb (albeit recently demised) JazzTech Big Band would readily affirm.
Parton always recruited only the best available sidemen for his large ensemble, and the same is true here with the JazzTech's superlative drummer, Bob Rummage, anchoring a top-drawer rhythm section comprised of bassist Eric Hochberg and pianists Laurence Hobgood (on five tracks) or Steve Million (four). Another able JazzTech veteran, the enterprising tenor saxophonist Mark Colby, sits in on "Million the Brazilian" and "8 x 12."
The program consists of seven original compositions plus Jerome Kern's "In Love in Vain" (mislabeled on the tray and booklet as "In Love and Vain") and Duke Ellington's "Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me." Hochberg wrote "Miss Black" and "8 x 12," Hobgood the soulful "Prayer for the Enemy," Million the snappy samba "Million the Brazilian." Rounding out the session are Sam Rivers' "Beatrice," Johnny Griffin's "When We Were One" and Chick Corea's lively waltz, "The Loop." If there's a caveat, it lies not with the performance—everyone is on the same page and resolutely focused—but the choice of material.
"In Vain" proves a rather curious curtain-raiser, as it doesn't lend itself readily to any measured improvisational discourse, even though Parton and his shipmates do the best they can to navigate its turbulent shoals. Elsewhere, tempos are slow to moderate, and there's nothing that would be mistaken for a flag-waver unless one considers "8 x 12," whose tempo is at least more animated than the rest. As Parton is a superior soloist at breakneck tempos, more velocity would not have been unwelcome.
Be that as it may, the quartet impresses, individually and collectively, on every number, and there are admirable statements by all hands, with Parton persuasive on trumpet or flugelhorn and Colby making the most of his concise appearances. A strong studio session from stem to stern.
Track Listing: In Love in Vain; Beatrice; Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me; When We Were One; Million the Brazilian; Miss Black; The Loop; Prayer for the Enemy; 8 x 12.
Personnel: Rob Parton: trumpet, flugelhorn; Laurence Hobgood: piano (1-3, 6, 8); Steve Million: piano (4, 5, 7, 9); Eric Hochberg: bass; Rob Rummage: drums; Mark Colby: tenor saxophone (5, 9).
Record Label: JazzTech | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream