Vibraphonist overlooked, but delivers the right stuff
All This And Heaven, Too Chuck Redd Arbors Jazz
Like Lionel Hampton, who was equally at home on drums and vibraphone, Chuck Redd is both timekeeper and vibist. A damned good one, too, though his skills as a vibraphonist have been largely overlooked by record companies. But Arbors’ major domo Mat Domber has taken care of that matter with an album that demonstrates when it comes to roaming a set of vibes, Redd belongs right up there with the big boys.
Redd isn’t a flashy vibist in the Terry Gibbs tradition. But what he plays makes a whole lot of musical sense. His music is soothing rather than sizzling. Not that he doesn’t swing. But it’s a controlled swing that is as pleasant as a soft spring breeze.
Redd’s compatriots include guitarist Chuck Bertoncini and bassist George Mraz on all 11 selections, and clarinetist and tenorman Ken Peplowski on four songs. A cozy little crew, to be sure.
Redd and his two-man rhythm section show what they’re up to right out of the box with a delightful “How About You?” and follow it up with tender take of “More Than You Know.” With the pattern in place, Redd rolls through a program that includes standards like “They Say It’s Wonderful” and “Indian Summer,” that finds Peplowski playing sax on the former and clarinet on the latter, as well as Thad Jones originals, “Three In One” and “Speaking of Sounds” that give Redd a chance to display his full arsenal.
There’s also a dose of Charlie Parker, a seven-minute reading of the explosive “Barbados” that creates space for the gifted Bertoncini to stretch out, and a Ben Arzonov composition, “Bennies Pennies,” that eventually winds up sounding a good deal like “Pennies From Heaven.” Those familiar with the flick “Sun Valley Serenade” will recognize the ballad and appreciate Mraz’s virtuosity and the warmth generated by Redd and Bertoncini.
A word on the title track and closing selection: The former is a tour de force for Redd, who, for the most part, explores a song without straying far from the melody, but who deviates from that pattern by using chord substitutions. The closer is the Latin- laced “Once Is Enough,” which is exactly opposite of the hope that we’ll be hearing more of Mr. Redd.
Cam Miller is a freelance jazz critic in Lake Wildwood. You may write to him care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, 95945.
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