HARD BOP HEAVEN…Benny Sharoni: Slant Signature, E.J. Strickland Quintet: The Undying Spirit

Ah, music with no leaven from rock or electronics!

If you like your jazz straight up with no filter, tenor saxist Benny Sharoni is your guy. He leads a no frills bop team with Jim Rotondi/tp, Joe Barbato/p, Mike Mele/g, Todd Baker/b and Steve Langone/dr through exciting and fresh material. His thick and macho tenor is served well on his own driving “Minor City” and nimble “Subterranean Samba,” while  Rotondi’s clean and clear horn serves up the crisply Latin “The Bodega.” The rhythm team shuffles off to Buffalo on Freddie Hubbard’s “Down Under” and glides like a luge team on the lovely reading of Lee Morgan’s “Ceora” which features Mele’s tasty guitar.  A bluesy back beat gets under your skin on”Bitter Drops” and Ray Bryant’s “Tonk” is an understated bop delight. Freshly served like baked bread at 5 am!

Drummer EJ Strickland rides the reins like Walter Brennan on the wagon train here with quintet with Jaleel Shaw/as, Marcus Strickland/ts-ss, Luis Perdono/p and Linda Oh/b. His crisp work drives the band on the exciting “Ride” and the bopping “Hindsight” as his snare gets somber with  Perdono and his brother’s soprano sax on “Ballad For All Mankind.” Oh’s bass glides along with tom toms on “Midnight’s Clearing” while the rhythm gets as busy as a beaver along with Shaw’s alto on “”Transcendence.” Exciting music here that keeps the neck supple and bobbing.

Papaya Records


Stick Muzik


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