Herlin Riley: Perpetual Optimism (Mack Avenue/Southbound)

 |   |  <1 min read

Stella By Starlight
Herlin Riley: Perpetual Optimism (Mack Avenue/Southbound)

This great New Orleans jazz drummer emerged alongside Wynton Marsalis and his neo-con movement in the Eighties and played on many Wynton albums (and pianist Marcus Roberts' Deep in the Shed), is a member of the Jazz at the Lincoln Centre Orchestra and, like many neo-cons, moved into teaching.

Here with the fine band of pianist Emmet Cohen, bassist Russell Hall, alto player Godwin Louis and trumpeter Bruce Harris, they cover a vast swathe of territory from originals, a look back to inspirations and originators (Ellis Marsalis' Twelve's It, Stella By Starlight, You Don't Know What Love Is) and the unexpected: a swinging treatment of the Willie Dixon/Koko TRalyor/Howlin' Wolf blues classic Wang Dang Doodle with an uncredited but not great vocalist (Riley perhaps?) and is mostly a showcase for the band, notably pianist Cohen.

The gospel church influence is evident on Rush Hour with its simple and joyous handclaps and Harris' surge upwards (which like the title track and Touched capture the spirit) and New Orleans is always close the centre (the title track).

Attention on albums by drummers usually shifts to the frontline soloists but Riley is such a cleverly understated but ever-present gentle force that you are inevitably but subtly drawn towards him, as on You Don't Know What Love Is where he ticks just a fraction behind the beat.

This is classy neo-con jazz which will appeal most to those who embraced that genre which Marsalis defined (at the expense of most others).

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

THE BLUE NOTE LABEL AT 75 (2014): Vision, visuals and visionaries in jazz

THE BLUE NOTE LABEL AT 75 (2014): Vision, visuals and visionaries in jazz

In early January 1939 Alfred Lion – a 30-year old emigre from Berlin who had moved permanently to New York just two years previous – took the boogie-woogie pianists Meade Lux Lewis... > Read more

Stephan Micus: Panagia (ECM/Ode)

Stephan Micus: Panagia (ECM/Ode)

In a previous profile of the German-born musician Stephan Micus (here), I noted that his musical journey has run parallel to a deeply spiritual one and this album -- his 20th for ECM, settings of... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: I'm a Man (2006)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: I'm a Man (2006)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have not been short of greatest hits, collections, a bio-doco or a box set anthology. So in 2009 when the four CD set Live Anthology rolled around you might be... > Read more

Angela's Low-fat Moist Cake which serves 12!

Angela's Low-fat Moist Cake which serves 12!

This is Angela's recipe under the very enticing (and somewhat healthy) title, and one which she says is a New Zealand adaption -- or is that "adaptation"? I've got into this discussion... > Read more