Joe Magnarelli – Three on Two – Posi-Tone Records – PR8142 – 55:42
Joe Magnarelli has been on our radar screen for some time. This is his 4th CD release we’ve covered since 2011. Beginning with his “with strings” CD in 2011, and following up with a live Smalls session in 2013 (with the late pianist Mulgrew Miller), Joe then signed with Posi-Tone for last year’s “Lookin’ Up”.
Joe is back with trombonist, Steve Davis, for another standout session. Posi-Tone has enhanced the hard bop front line with altoist, Mike DiRubbo, and added organist Brian Charette to add more “grease” to the mix. Drummer Rudy Royston is a spot-on choice to give the proceedings a true “Blue Note type” authenticity.
The song list is a winning mix of four Magnarelli originals, plus tracks from DiRubbo and Davis, as well as two from Coltrane, and “Clockwise” from Cedar Walton. A Debussy composition (updated in 1938 into a popular song by Larry Clinton) is added to make sure we know that Joe is a man for all seasons…
Right out of the box, the horns blend sweetly on the title track. Charette lets us know quickly that he’s there, and then Joe steps up to blow. His tone is warm, round, and burnished. The addition of Charette’s organ is a wise move on the part of producer, Marc Free. Organ with horns almost always seems about right.
“Easy” from Steve Davis is all that and more. If you dig hard bop as much as I do, the blend that Davis and Magnarelli so effortlessly possess helps with the continuum of this genre. It’s hard to quantify to those who do not appreciate the Blue Note/Prestige origins of hard bop that continue today through efforts of High Note, Savant, and Posi-Tone, but when you just hear a few choruses with the right mix of jazz musicians you know the future of the music we love is in good hands.
DiRubbo’s “The Step Up” has Mike and Brian doing just that. I forgot how much I enjoyed Mike’s previous Posi-Tone issues, Repercussion and Chronos. This track brought it back. “NYC-J-Funk” brings it and the pulse is set by Rudy Royston, spurring on Joe with a funkalicious back-beat and organ fills by Charette.
26-2, a contrafact of Coltrane’s based on Bird’s “Confirmation” gives DiRubbo center-stage to blow and we enter the bop arena. Joe and Steve also have solos here. Joe gets into rapid- fire delivery mode on “Paris.” The horns’ ensemble blend is highlighted on another Coltrane tune, “Central Park West” before Joe’s lyrical solo.
Top to bottom, Magnarelli’s Three on Two CD release is a slam dunk issue highlighted by Joe making all the right moves on the jazz court…
TrackList: Three on Two, Easy, The Step Up, NYC-J-Funk, 26-2, Clockwise, Paris, Central Park West, Outlet Pass, My Reverie