Sunday, March 6, 2016

John Fedchock Quartet Live. Fluidity.

John Fedchock Quartet Live.  Fluidity.
Summit Records, 2015.  John Fedchock:

John Fedchock describes himself as a New York musician, but his roots are in Northeast Ohio. Born in Cleveland in 1957, he attended Ohio State University and the Eastman School of Music, joined the Woody Herman Band in 1980, and has been a prominent trombonist in several big bands. He leads John Fedchock’s New York Big Band (seems reasonable), which has four CDs to their credit, and also works in smaller group contexts, including a sextet, and here, a quartet. He’s won lots of accolades and awards for his playing and arranging. Let’s see what he’s done this time.

On this release, Fedchock plays mostly standards, with two originals and a Joe Henderson cover. Among the composers are Victor Young, Henry Mancini, Frank Loesser, and Jule Styne, so it’s clear that he delves extensively into the Great American Songbook. He takes the tunes in a bop direction and moves them along in a gentle, dreamy fashion. This is a live album, so there is a bit of audience applause, but it doesn’t distract from listening, and in fact, provides a nice backdrop to the band’s motivated performance. Fedchock’s playing is really quite impressive; I’ve seldom heard a trombone played with such, well, fluidity. His slide technique and articulation are superb, as is evident in such slow tunes as “Havana,” and “Make Someone Happy,” where he is out front and on display. Most of the songs feature one or more of the other players in solos, and they are very effective as well. I am particularly fond of John Toomey’s piano work, both in solos (especially “I Hear a Rhapsody”) and in his support behind Fedchock. Two mid-tempo tunes, “I Hear a Rhapsody,” and “Homestretch,” are my personal favorites here, with great solos and delightful interplay among the musicians.

If you love jazz ballads, small combos, or trombone, this is an album to listen to over and over.

Personnel:  John Fedchock (trombone), John Toomey (piano), Jimmy Masters (bass), Dave Ratajczak (drums).
Tracks: East of the Sun, Havana, I Hear a Rhapsody, Make Someone Happy, Under the Radar, Weaver of Dreams, The Days of Wine and Roses, I’ve Never Been in Love Before, Homestretch.

Jeff Wanser

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