One Fo All – Big George (ENG review)

Street date March 15th 2024
One Fo All - Big George (ENG review)

One Fo All, a dazzling sextet lineup composed of Jim Rotondi – trumpet, Eric Alexander – tenor & alto saxophones, Steve Davis – trombone, David Hazeltine – piano, John Webber – bass, Joe Farnsworth – drums, with a special guest George Coleman – tenor saxophone, sounds as if they were on stage with extremely well-thought-out compositions for this kind of ensemble and tailor-made arrangements, nothing exceeds, everything is perfectly framed; all the listener needs to do is press the button and settle into their chair to witness the full-scale sonic spectacle. I spoke recently about the excellent trumpeter Jim Rotondi, here again he is simply incredible, unsurprisingly finding himself in this kind of formation that allows for an even more impressive mode of expression.
One for All has evolved over its quarter-century history, transitioning from a sextet of young torchbearers to one of the most revered traditionalist ensembles in music. The increasing demand for these six artists can be measured by the time gap between albums. THE THIRD DECADE in 2016 followed its predecessor by five years; seven years of this decade have now passed before the highly anticipated sequel album, BIG GEORGE.
This lineup is often referred to as “New York’s premier hard-bop supergroup,” and rightly deserves this designation. Hard-Bop, it remains to be seen on what path these artists walk; in my opinion, none other than their own. Certainly, there is a “bop” theme that serves as a basis for another mode of musical expression. In this case, given the level of the musicians present, this theme is a red herring allowing them to implement all their peculiarities and artistic expressions, which we have plenty of time to appreciate on the syrupy version of “My Foolish Heart,” in which each instrumentalist gives a particular meaning to this work. That’s what Big George is about—a vision, a sense of writing that opens the way to music of tomorrow. Hard-bop remains the foundation, a foundation that could shift at any moment, as each of these artists who make up the group could (one can feel it) quickly drift towards other paths and take their little world with them.
The album’s release date comes a week after Coleman celebrated his 89th birthday on March 8th. Originally from Memphis, he grew up amidst an amazing group of future pioneers, including Charles Lloyd, Hank Crawford, Booker Little, and the patron saint of the Smoke club, Harold Mabern. After honing his skills with icons like Ray Charles and B.B. King, Coleman played with many of the most influential names in jazz, including Max Roach, Charles Mingus, Slide Hampton, Chet Baker, Ahmad Jamal, Elvin Jones, and a notable stint in Miles Davis’ Quintet.
All of this certainly shows why this album fascinates us as much as it questions us. Alexander explains: “I thought it was spectacular. His presence makes the situation a little different from one of our usual dates because we worked out some arrangements in the studio based on what he was doing. This is an aspect that hasn’t really been shown on our recordings until now.”
Once again, an album as essential as it is indispensable, just as we love them…

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, March 7th 2024


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