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Rex Richardson/ Steve Wilson Blue Shift

DownBeatMagazine - February 2015


Trumpeter Rex Richardson ought to be better known for his ability to straddle the worlds of jazz and classical music. A standout soloist with the power, tone and flexibility to rival Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw, his reputation has been built on his appearances as a guest artist and clinician. Blue Shift, one of two new jazz recordings he has released, has enough first-rate material to make people notice his work as a group leader.

Rex Richardson Steve Wilson jazz album Blue Shift 2015

Richardson is exceptionally well matched with alto saxophonist Steve Wilson and guitarist Trey Pollard. On Pollard’s knotty opener, “Tell, Tell Me Again,” Richardson and Wilson blend angular lines that alternate with a mellower main theme. That angularity is there again on Richardson’s “Red Shift,” which is highlighted by a powerful trumpet solo that dances above Pollard’s smeary chordal work. Drummer Brian Jones contributes another memorable composition with “Big Sur,” which keeps returning to a klezmer-tinged melody, and the band churns through Shaw’s hard-driving “Tomorrow’s Destiny” with tenacious intensity. The remaining four pieces offer less interesting material. Ballads by Jones and Wilson provide rich vehicles for blending voices, and Richardson’s boppish “Seeing Star (Blue Shift)” lends itself to assertive trading between trumpet and sax. Bassist Randall Pharr’s “Blues For David Henry,” with touches of New Orleans in the phrasing, allows the recording to slip away without fireworks. — James Hale

Blue Shift: Tell, Tell Me Again; Red Shift; Cyclical; Seeing Star (Blue Shift); The Benevolent One; Big Sur; Tomorrow’s Destiny; Blues For David Henry. (50:33)

Personnel: Rex Richardson, trumpet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet; Steve Wilson, alto saxophone; Trey Pollard, guitar; Randall Pharr, bass; Brian Jones, drums.

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