Joe Magnarelli: Three on Two (Posi-Tone). A gentle hard bop album is always welcome on my end. I love Joe’s fleshy, round trumpet tones, which express pure love for the instrument. Here, with Steve Davis (tb), Mike Dirubbo (as), Brian Charette (org) and Rudy Royston (d), “Mags” plays even more beautifully than usual on his own title track, Davis’s Easy and Coltrane’s Central Park West. Once again, Joe proves that it’s not how many notes you play or how hot you blow but whether your heart is along for the ride.
Last year trumpet ace Joe Magnarelli put forth his first album under the Posi-Tone flag, but this was hardly the first time around the block for this respected veteran sideman and bandleader.Three On Two, out earlier this month, is his second for the label and also marks twenty years of leading his own dates.
As the title suggests, it’s a three horn/two-part rhythm section setup, but a little bit different than what you might think it’d be. Once again, the eminent Steve Davis is by Magnarelli’s side on trombone and Mike DiRubbo joins the two on alto sax. Rudy Royston is on drums and instead of bass, Brian Charette completes the quintet on organ. His handling of both the keyboard and the bottom (via bass pedals) chores effectively expands the ensemble to a sextet and few are better qualified to simultaneously lock down the low end and mix it up with a large front line of crackerjack horn players than Charette.
And in spite of this being a straight-ahead blowing affair in the finest Posi-Tone tradition, there’s quite of bit of mixing it up, starting with the title tune, with shifty rhythms and maximal, articulate trumpet playing by the leader. DiRubbo keeps the good vibe going and Charette put a soul-leaden cap on the solos run. Straightforward swingers abound on this collection, too, like the crisp, uptempo Coltrane number “26-2,” which features DiRubbo’s lively sax and some seriously sizzling outpouring of notes from Magnarelli. The guys show they can play it cool, too, on another Trane tune, “Central Park West,” where Magnarelli lays his soul bare and delivers a pretty solo on flugelhorn.
There’s even some fresh funk on this record: Magnarelli’s “NYC-J-Funk” gets down with a sly mixture of contemporary, almost hip-hop beats (led by Royston) and the soulful genius of Art Blakey’s Messengers; here, Charette syncopates his organ and bass pedal lines with easy equanimity.
The way Joe Magnarelli’s band members are pitted against — and with — each other through a solid blend of originals and covers makes Three On Two a gratifying way to experience mainstream jazz. Just like Magnarelli’s last release.