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 at Elsewhere articles index

FREE JAZZ OF THE SEVENTIES: Missing in action . . . and in-action

FREE JAZZ OF THE SEVENTIES: Missing in action . . . and in-action

Without wishing to sound the complete High Fidelity, but I was moving some albums around the other night ... As with many people I have an embarrassment of riches on vinyl, and a rich... > Read more

Herbie Hancock: River, The Joni Letters (Verve)

Herbie Hancock: River, The Joni Letters (Verve)

Jazzman Hancock has long been a supporter of Mitchell so this tribute to her music -- with another longtime Joni sideman Wayne Shorter on saxes -- comes as no surprise. And Mitchell's music has... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

YOU BETTER NOT CRY by AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS: Christmas spirits

YOU BETTER NOT CRY by AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS: Christmas spirits

Ah Christmas: ‘Tis the season to be . . . despondent and predictable? It is the time to bemoan the commercialisation of a Christian festival, to listen as miserable souls announce “I... > Read more

THE NEW ARCHITECTURE OF OSLO, PART TWO (2017): The Tjuvholmen district

THE NEW ARCHITECTURE OF OSLO, PART TWO (2017): The Tjuvholmen district

In the first part of this photo essay-cum-envy tourism look at the new architecture of Oslo, we turned the camera onto the small and developing area known as Barcode which is emerging behind the... > Read more