Fumi Tomita: Celebrating Bird / A Tribute To Charlie Parker

This is bop for today, taken seriously, paying homage to a past master but playing the music in the style and manner of today with fresh, invigorating compositions

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This tribute is a straightahead programme of original compositions in the Parker bop style. It is not a retrospective look at Parker’s music but eight new compositions in the bop tradition played as contemporary jazz by the quartet. Four tracks were written by leader Tomita and four by his tenor saxophonist Detweiler who is also responsible for most of the solo work.

Tomita is a big-toned bassist who solos on most pieces and has inventive, expanded solo outings on Waltz Of The Moon and Alice Changes. There are no Parker compositions here like Ko Ko or Ornithology although some pieces like Oceanology, Bird Dreams and Bird’s Yard are similar in construction and mood. What we have is some original music with contemporary flourishes in the bop style. Given that bop and its successor hard bop have proved over the decades to be the definitive jazz style for so many bands and the music is truly timeless and, usually, fresh, this is a good way of continuing the tradition without slavish imitation.

The eight tracks are all played with vigour and commitment and although the leader allows himself plenty of solo space, he does not hog it. Detweiler is a sturdy tenor player with a light but boppish sound and pianist Hirahara has a melodic touch on solos although he is mostly kept busy comping. MacBride drives hard and is a tasty, swinging drummer although he is a little under recorded. Either that or he prefers to play very quietly all through.

Generally, the sound is extremely good. Listed as an “acoustic recording”, the session has great clarity. It does need an extra turn of the volume control to most CDs but that may come from the acoustic style of recording. This is bop for today, taken seriously, paying homage to a past master but playing the music in the style and manner of today with fresh, invigorating compositions.

Discography
Oceanology; Bird’s Yard; Like Sigmund; Waltz Of The Moon; Alice Changes; Capital Circle; Intersection; Bird Dreams (45.05)
Tomita (b); David Detweiler (ts); Art Hirahara (p); Jimmy MacBride (d). Brooklyn, NYC, 31 January 2020.
Next Level NL 2036