Beefy tone, impeccable technique, likeclockwork time and melodic, adventurous solos have defined Rufus Reid’s work on thousands of recordings, and it’s inspiring to hear the veteran upright player and educator lead a jazz power trio as potent as his new Out Front group. High-energy opener “Glory” has Reid, the tune’s composer, sharing a hop-scotching unison line with pianist Steve Allee, against Duduka Da Fonseca’s hyperactive drum-set sizzle. The three ease their way through several shades of samba on “Dona Maria” and “Dry Land,” and turn in textbook deep-groove swing on Eddie Harris’s “The Crying Blues.” Reid’s gorgeous tone, amber vibrato, and huge sustain are showcased with his unaccompanied intro and outro, melody reading, and dazzling improvisation on Tadd Dameron’s “If You Could See Me Now.” And his sensitive arco work is in full flight on his aptly titled ballad, “Caress the Thought.” It’s all enchanting, and often awe-inspiring.
Ike Sturm, Jazz Mass [ikesturm.com]
Jazz musicians, many of whom started playing in church, are no strangers to spiritual works, whether overtly religious large-ensemble pieces by Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck, or the likes of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” Christian worship clearly is at the heart of double- bassist Ike Sturm’s Jazz Mass, ten devotional pieces running from the prayerful “Kyrie” to the closing processional, “Hymn: Shine.” But the music, which sometimes hints at ECM-label spaciousness and Metheny-esque heartland Americana, isn’t strictly for believers. Sturm, jazz ministry directory at Saint Peter’s Church, the spiritual home of Manhattan’s jazz community, brings together a 14-member choir and 10- piece string section with classically trained singer Misty Ann Sturm and such standout soloists as tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen for music of extraordinary emotion and beauty. His improvised solo, “Interlude,” is a resonant