With many jazz musicians looking for new musical directions, new ways to express their ideas, every once in a while an album comes along to show that there’s still plenty of life in the older musical ideas. There is still room for creativity in the tried and true. Bop, an album from keyboardist Jeff Lorber, guitarist Chuck Loeb, and an all-star supporting cast including Everette Harp (tenor sax), Harvey Mason (drums), Brian Bromberg (bass), Rick Braun (trumpet/trombone), and Till Brönner (as well as a number of guest artists), is the pudding that proves the point.
Bop was recorded to raise funds to grow awareness of polycystic kidney disease, a potentially life-threatening genetic condition that has affected Lorber and members of his family. All the musicians involved donated their time and talent to the project which was recorded in a limited number of sessions. This, according to Loeb in the liner notes, is “a creative benefit to the listeners” as it follows in what he calls “the tradition of this music.” And while the album’s charitable purpose is laudable, it is, after all the music that has to speak to the listener. Bop doesn’t only speak, it screams attention must be paid.
The CD’s 12-song set is made up of energetic new readings of some of the great bop classics. With the exception of one tune, Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein’s “All the Things You Are” (a number associated with a good many bop artists), all the rest are well-known compositions from the pen of bop super stars. They open with Monk’s “Straight No Chaser” and add a stunning version of his “‘Round Midnight.”
There are a trio of Charlie Parker pieces: “Donna Lee,” “Now’s The Time,” and “Confirmation.” They are joined on the latter by Eric Maienthal on alto sax. Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunesia” is a romp and Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas” sparkles. The set concludes with John Patitucci (bass), Brian Dunne (drums), and Randy Brecker (trumpet) joining in on a short version of Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” a version that has to leave the listener wanting more.
If this album is any indication, Bop is alive and well—and still kicking backsides.