Don't get too worked up if I say that James Zollar's It's All Good People is sometimes akin to Ornette Coleman's Prime Time taking over G.E. Smith's gig on Saturday Night Live because I certainly mean it complimentarily, though Ornette may well take out a hit on my critic's rear end for saying so. Catch the intro cut, The Mo' Doctor, though, and you'll see what I mean. This particular approach doesn't happen too often through the CD but just enough to raise an eyebrow and a grin. There are, however, quite a few changes going on within the confines of what's otherwise a fairly sequitar jazz/funk/soul/dance album.
Guest flautist Cleave Guyton, for instance, sets up a Bjorn Jaysun Lindh-esque Imagine Me for a long long solo before Zollar comes sailing in and nails a Miles trumpet presence as offset. And it should be noted that Zollar's extremely generous to his band and sessioneers, letting them roam free, much to the benefit of each cut. His own lines are clear, pure, and warm, as Ravi Coltrane has noted, not to mention lyrical within an uptown hip nightclub zone not unlike the vibe Freddie Hubbard was so damn perfect at setting in his CTI days. There is, in fact, a good deal of Freddie in James, as Hubbard was a highly Romantic soul and so is Zollar, something clearly evident in his take on Ivan Lins' Bilhete.
Ah, but catch the Kansas City Cha Cha when you're done with Bilhete and get into a dreamy-eyed hipsway, maybe even form a mellifluous conga line to the Herb Alpert tones and lush ambiance as Freddie Bryant throws in a guitar travelling back to John Tropea, Rick Germanson's electric piano conjuring up Kudu days as Zollar mixes Hubbard with a touch of Klemmer. Yep, I know John played sax, but listen to this song and you'll see Klem's tonality and phrasing are in there…and keep in mind that he created the #1 erotic/sensual/romantic slab of all time, Barefoot Ballet, echoes of which find their way into much of Good People.
With all the above, I think you get a good idea of what's going on here. Zollar's disc is a re-evocation of a period in jazz when the fire and abstractions of the Mingus/Kirk/Coltrane genius era had abated and people, tired from the tumult of the 60s, militarism of the 50s, and concurrent creative backlashes against it all just wanted to cool off with some great sounds you could get up and boogie to or just sit down and seat dance behind…with a nice cool cocktail in hand. Also, though, pay close attention to Bruce Cox. The guy's one hell of a drummer, particularly stand-out in his self-written Paradito.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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