Cecil Brooks III

Cecil Brooks IIILive at Sweet Basil
Cecil Brooks III
(Savant – 2001)
by Dick Bogle

There’s lots of difference on this CD between the very high talent level of the musicians and the technical quality of the recording. If the sound was as good as the music, this would have merited five stars, rather than three. However, to record a quintet’s live performance from a cramped bandstand is replete with problems … in this case problems unresolved. It’s not likely this will be played often on the jazz station of your choice simply because the tracks are too long for regular airplay. The shortest, “But Beautiful,” is 8 minutes, 22 seconds long. The longest, “Vamp For Cho,” is 15:33.

So what’s good about it? It is the music and the passion that accompanies its performance. Leader-drummer Cecil Brooks III is from the Elvin Jones-Art Blakey school of hard, emphatic drumming with a consistent presence. Brooks is all of that, driving his band with his physical attack.

One of the major voices is tenor saxophonist Don Braden, a strong, hard-blowing player who seems to be on the verge of greatness. He mellows out nicely on “Chelsea Bridge,” following a fine solo piano intro by the veteran John Hicks. There is a young trumpet player on the record of whom this writer had never heard until today. Riley Mullins is soulfully pretty on the ballad “But Beautiful,” but full of fiery technique on the closer, “Vamp For Cho.” We should all hope we hear more from him and often.

Reprinted with kind permission of The Skanner.