Strength and Sanity (Newvelle NV004LP)
Booker Little was as great a jazz trumpeter as any, and here his work is revisited by his old pianist Don Friedman, reinforcing one’s bewilderment as to why these fascinating compositions have not entered the standard repertoire. Without resort to imitation in any sense, Friedman, bassist Phil Palombi and drummer Shinnosuke Takahashi capture key hallmarks of Little’s work: starkness, lyricism and litheness. The rhythm section makes the tunes airy, and Friedman skims across the top of this buoyancy with constant reminders of what an under-acknowledged force he is. His improvising never feels hemmed in by the changes, and his freer work is underpinned by a rare artistic rigour. As we have now come to expect from Newvelle, the vinyl sound has sumptuous depth and extravagant dynamic breadth.