As with Curtis Lundys previous recording, the highly acclaimed Against All Odds
is built upon the powerful foundation of his deeply resonant and highly rhythmic sound.
Like other great bassist/leaders, such as Charles Mingus, Dave Holland and Reggie Workman, Lundy eschews the solo spotlight, opting instead to provide the focus and heartbeat from within the sterling rhythm section.
With the impeccably tasteful and endlessly creative Billy Hart on drums, Curtis brings back the same two gentlemen who split the piano duties on Against All Odds, John Hicks and Anthony Wonsey. This time, however, the excellent vibraphonist Steve Nelson is along to both solidify the rhythmic thrust and liberate the structure through the instruments suspended chords and atmospheric presence.
The solo spotlight focuses on the fine young tenorman Mark Shim, who, like both Lundy and Hicks, is a graduate of one of jazz most profound educational institutions, the University of Betty Carter. Although hes a graduate of one of the later classes in that eminent and sorely missed facility, he brings a maturity and historical perspective that fits perfectly with the albums other participants, mostly a generation or two his seniors.
With a sound that is muscular, lyrical and fluid, Shim displays his clear respect for the giants of the tenor saxophone legacy while maintaining a totally contemporary style. Whether tearing it up with an emphatically punctuated solo on Nelsons Shape Shifting, grooving on Lundys two soulful originals, A Walk in Serendipity and Blues for J.A., or offering breathtaking excursions on Curtis two beautiful ballads, Love Transforms and Oveida, Shims solos are one of Purposes many treasures. He also contributes the albums opening cut, Snake Eyes, an easy-tempo percolator featuring a delightful solo by Steve Nelson.
Similarly, his contemporary, Anthony Wonsey, brings a tasteful elegance and well-seasoned musical sense to the proceedings on six of the nine tracks. His lovely solo on the gently cascading Love Transforms and his bluesy offering on the exquisite Oveida contrast nicely with his driving sojourn on Shape Shifting.
His highly sympathetic section work, ideally displayed here, has made him a favorite choice of such top names as Roy Hargrove, Kenny Garrett, Nicholas Payton and Carmen Lundy, Curtis sister, considered to be one of the premiere vocalists in jazz. His presence on Carmens Justin Time release, This is Carmen Lundy (produced by Curtis) was highly praised and his original tune here, a crisply syncopated driver simply entitled Carmen, is a dedication to her.
John Hicks, one of the most acclaimed and powerful pianists in jazz, makes his dynamic presence on three tracks. Pas de Toi, by pianist Paul Arslanian is a trio showcase for Hicks and Lundys solo stylings, subtly shaded by Harts rhythmic subtlety. Highly lyrical and deliciously swinging solos on Serendipity and his own Two Heartbeats prove why John Hicks is so highly regarded by fans and critics alike.
Without question, the heart and soul of this album is Curtis Lundy. Whether locked in the deeply grooved ostinato of Serendipity, the brisk walk of Blues for J.A., the fiery energy of Carmen, Shape Shifting and Snake Eyes, or exuding tremendous warmth and richness on the ballads, Lundy is in the drivers seat all the way. One listen to this CD will clearly show why Curtis Lundy is recognized as one of the top bassists of his generation.
Born in Miami 46 years ago, Curtis Lundys arrival in New York quickly brought him together with many of the most important names on the scene. Often working with longtime associate, the outstanding altoist Bobby Watson, Curtis played with a veritable whos who of jazz greats, including George Coleman, Freddie Hubbard, Sam Rivers, Johnny Griffin and another of the premiere educators, Art Blakey.
But it was the peerless Betty Carter and her infallible recognition of talent, who had the greatest impact upon Lundy. Discovering the young bassist while he was studying at the University of Miami, Betty brought him to New York in 1979 as a member of her trio. Performing extensively with her, Curtis also became deeply involved with her formal education program, Jazz Ahead, and its the experience with her that is the deepest in both his playing and philosophy of music, providing the Purpose that gives this CD its title.
Undoubtedly, Betty is wearing her big, beautiful smile on her eternal bandstand at this superb offering from her protégé.