published March 17, 2013 | posted by detroit
Capsule reviews of the first Detroit Music Factory recordings and other new CDs by Detroit-area jazz musicians.
• Scott Gwinnell, "Cass Corridor Story" (Detroit Music Factory):Gwinnell spent two years living in Detroit's gritty Cass Corridor in the mid-'90s. The pianist-composer has channeled his feelings for the neighborhood into a suite of eight pieces that captures the contradictions of the environment, from its spirited urgency and swinging history to the melancholy of a fraying social fabric. Gwinnell's meticulous scoring takes advantage of a three- and four-horn front line. While I wish the rhythm section had more weight and some solos more authority, the richness of the writing transcends.
• Planet D Nonet, "Swingin' the D" (Detroit Music Factory):"Swingin' the D" samples a lot of the things this little big band does well, dipping into the swing era ("Christopher Columbus"), later Ellingtonia ("Azure Te," aka "Paris Blues"), early Sun Ra (the mind-expanding minor blues "A Call For All Demons") and juke joint R&B ("Well Alright"). A charismatic joie de vivre, tight-knit ensemble work and idiomatic solos keep the band, co-led by drummer RJ Spangler and trumpeter James O'Donnell, from falling into pastiche. Singer Thornetta Davis' sultry cameo on "Candy" nearly steals the disc.
• Sean Dobbins and the Modern Jazz Messengers, "Blue Horizon" (Detroit Music Factory): A drummer with a big beat and big heart, Dobbins leads a vivacious quintet that takes its cue from Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. The CDs leans on repertory staples by Wayne Shorter, Cedar Walton, Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea and others. While I'd prefer more original tunes from within the band, vibraphonist Rob Pipho and alto saxophonist Dean Moore solo on a high plane of invention and pianist Steve Richko, bassist Marion Hayden and Dobbins lay down an infectious groove.by Mark Stryker