Long Sidewalks continues the collaborations between trombonists Jeb Bishop (of Chicago and North Carolina) and Jeff Albert (New Orleans).
After Katrina and the Federal Flood, Albert recorded in Chicago with Bishop as well as some of the better improvisers in the Windy City. In 2013, Bishop returned the favor with some of the top musicians here in New Orleans. What’s resulted is a great record of active and exciting modern jazz.
Many of these musicians play together in different settings, so it is no surprise how well they combine their individual sounds into a coherent band sound. The music is full of dynamic playing, whether it’s the way that the musicians echo each other’s riffing and switch from smaller groups into the larger ensemble in “Bernie’s Boat,” or the unexpected but beautiful harmonic turns in the melody of “Returning.”
The way the band segues out of the breakdowns on saxophonist Rex Gregory’s “Nobody” and the jam in the middle of the tune comes off with a wild intensity. The front line plays both in and out, and their versatility keeps the music more than interesting. It also helps that most of the record has a propulsive and almost a dance rhythm that provides a power behind the horns.
The whole record has swaggering, confident swing to it that will make fans of more mainstream jazz and those who favor the avant-garde side of things happy when the great music of Long Sidewalks comes out of their speakers, headphones, or ear buds.