(Planet Arts Network, 2009)
You’ve never had more on your plate: an editing deadline approaching with the speed of a bullet, a pile of laundry having the malodor of a backed-up sink, three months’ worth of rent due and then a thundering roll of knocks at the door…wouldn’t this be a good time to listen to trumpeter and flugelhorn player Steve Lambert’s May? It’s an assuasive aside from life’s more trying moments (just don’t open the door).
With a homegrown Capital Region sextet, it’s the Schenectady native’s debut as a leader (and his first disc for Catskill label Planet Arts Network). Lambert premieres six of his compositions: “Double Tough” edges out from drummer Joe Barna’s intro riff with a unison melodic line between him and tenor saxophonist Brian Patneaude; from there it’s a real swinger with the addition of alto saxophonist Keith Pray. The South of the Border-inflected “Steve’s Tune” has a shrewdness to it, displayed in Barna’s tight and seamless change-off from toms to snare and the front line’s construction of a crystalline, three-tiered harmonization of the melody. The title tune is ripe with lushness and beauty; pianist Dave Solazzo’s rustling solo is bright and buoyant, while bassist Mike DelPrete’s is more sonorous. Lambert’s tone on flugelhorn, leaning close to that of trumpeter Thad Jones, is effusively warm, particularly on “Yearning Lost.” Three standards are included on May: Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Like Someone in Love,” Jule Styne’s “It’s You or No One,” and Kurt Weill’s “Mack the Knife.” Listening to the sextet suavely curl through a ballad-leaning version of the latter begs the question: Who knew ol’ Mackie to be such a nice fellow? www.planetarts.org