(Palmetto – 1999)
by Ray Redmond
With the recent passing of saxophone great Grover Washington, the jazz-pop world will have to turn elsewhere for that soulful sound that Grover gave us for so many wonderful years. Cornelius Bumpus is certainly a contender for that honor. His new CD known fact is warm and melodic the way that Grover’s tunes were. With a sprinkling of background vocals and the ocassional blues influence, Bumpus saxophone sings to the listener in sweet, sensuous tones.
Bumpus’ own “Jupiter Spin” gives the saxman a chance to swing over a gentle funk groove, double his own horns and improvise brilliantly. After a smoky gospel-flavored reading of The Staples Singers gem “I’ll Take You There,” Bumpus once again hits the romantic trail with the graceful tenor-led title track; the tune features an orchestral flavored atmosphere and an elegant, jazz piano solo by Aries. “Abundare” is Bumpus’ tribute to Brazilian music, with an hypnotic, rolling samba rhythm, a breezy flute melody and exotic percussion fills and soundscaping.
Bumpus has toured as a member of Steely Dan since the band’s mid-90s reunion, and gives the Donald Fagen/Walter Becker classic “Chain Lightning” a burning blues twist with the help of Aries’ punchy organ harmonies and solo. Bumpus once again contemplates gentle, loving thoughts on the soprano ballad “Meganita,” then leads a slamming gospel blues jam on “Stand Up and Be Counted” with hot horn soloing over crisp electric guitar lines. Bumpus’ love for the blues continues on the closing cut, a mournful tune of longing featuring his own soulful vocals.