Bye Bye Blackbird: Blowing in from Chicago for Von and Eddie is a six-tune May 2016 release from tenor sax stalwart Frank Catalano. Working with him are Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, guitarist Nir Felder and Demos Petropolous on the Hammond B3 organ. For good measure, David Sanborn joins in on the alto sax for two numbers.
Catalano explains in the liner notes that the album “is meant to honor 2 additional Sax heroes, Von Freeman and Eddie Harris,” both of whom he had worked with and were helpful in his career. See for example Catalano’s 1999 collaboration with Freeman, You Talkin to Me?
The funky “Chicago Eddie,” which opens the set, is a soulful love letter to Harris, while the album’s title standard, on which Sanborn joins the ensemble, is their nod to Freeman. The interplay between the two sax players is a sweet example of two musicians working in a truly complementary groove, a groove they keep going in their team work on the Stanley Turrentine jazz classic, “Sugar.”
After an exciting visit to Miles Davis’ “All Blues,” the quartet moves on to a soulful version of “At Last” before closing with a vibrant romp through “Shakin.’” This last one spotlights solo work by Chamberlin, Felder and Petropoulos, and makes for a dynamite conclusion to the album.
All in all, Bye Bye Blackbird is a fine album filled with some great straight-ahead solo work as well as some fine collaboration. These are clearly musicians that talk to each other and more importantly understand one another.
If there is anything to complain about in this album, it would be the amount of music: a program of six songs running 32 minutes leaves the listener, at any rate this listener, wanting a lot more. But then again, if that’s the only complaint, remember that age old advice, always leave your audience wanting more.