Retro rules the roost in a new release from bassist Steve Haines and his group, who seem to have found a direct route to the kind of music that would have been right at home in the hard-bop era. Stickadiboom, now out on the Zoho label, is strongly evocative of the days when creative jazz artists were jammin' in dark clubs everywhere.
It doesn't hurt that Haines' quintet is also enlisting the aid of guest artist Jimmy Cobb, who has a long career based on employing his drums with skill alongside everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Miles Davis. The latter name carries some added significance for Haines himself, because in addition to being a talented bassist he's the director of the Miles Davis Program in Jazz Studies at UNC.
That position by the group's leader is indicative of the academic side of the musicians forming the quintet, all of whom seem to be teachers or program directors — but they are also talented professional musicians. In addition to bassist Haines, the quintet's members include David Lown on tenor sax, Rob Smith on both trumpet and soprano sax, and pianist Chip Crawford. Filling out the group on two of the tracks is drummer Thomas Taylor.
The album's title is a jazz term used by drummers to describe their sound, and Cobb is a strong presence on many of the pieces here, but the album is about more than drums. Even Cobbs' own "Composition 101," the only one of the eight tunes not composed by Haines, features some nice honkin' sax from Lown in addition to Cobbs' stickwork.
Among Haines' compositions is a variety of sounds that ranges from the smooth but lively ensemble work on the title tune, led by Smith's trumpet and backed by Haines' bass, to the slow and soothing "Patience," which features Smith showing off his superb soprano sax skills. (Nice alliteration, huh?)
Of course, the retro-bop sound shows up on most of the tracks. Especially enjoyable were "Sutak 9-1-1," with Smith's trumpet again front and center, and "The Freightrain." But my favorite on the album was a sweet and softly soaring song that has a little more of a traditional sound; "Prospect Park," which serves as a nice vehicle for some terrific sax play from Lown.
An outstanding, solid collection combining post-bop and conventional jazz — highly recommended.