Nominated for a 2011 Grammy award in the category of Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Positootly! is a dazzlingly hip offering from pianist John Beasley. The bass of James Genus and drums of Jeff “Tain” Watts provide the foundation for the virtuosic keyboard flights by Beasley. The trio really gels throughout the album, with Bennie Maupin‘s saxophone and Brian Lynch‘s trumpet being the icing on the cake. Beasley authored seven of the 10 tunes as well.
Among the many highlights throughout Positootly! is a fluid take on Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Dindi.” It’s among the very best displays of the main trio’s musical camaraderie, with the rhythm section providing a billowing basis for Beasley’s piano explorations.
“Shatita Boom Boom” is the album’s tightest groove, with Maupin’s soprano sax decorating the bouncy, elastic rhythm. “Tanguedia III” finds Beasley expanding his already diverse texture by multi-tracking additional keyboards.
“Elle” is a gorgeous slower number, again bolstered by sweet soprano courtesy of Bennie Maupin. Beginning as an introspective ballad, the tune builds to a deeply felt groove. Bobby Timmons’ “So Tired” features some smooth Fender Rhodes from Beasley. Maupin works things out on tenor this time, snaking around Beasley’s keys with expert timing. “The Eight Winds” opens with Lynch’s muted trumpet and quickly establishes itself as one of the fastest work-outs on the album.
“Black Thunder” charges out of the gate with a stellar head played aggressively by both Maupin and Lynch. The two horn players offer commanding solos before Beasley takes the reins again. The title track is another masterful trio performance, with some of Beasley’s most melodic runs. The performance is quietly intense, without sacrificing the air of effortless mastery that permeates Beasley’s playing.
The title of the album is New Orleans slang, combining “positively” with “absolutely.” That term manages to perfectly capture the joy and confidence inherent on the album. Positootly! closes with the meditative solo piano piece “Hope….Arkansas.” It’s an effectively calm way to end a churning, stormy, and always inventive album.
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