Liam Sillery, the New York-based young trumpeter, is back with his second OA2 release, and has hit paydirt with On the Fly. For those of you who mourn for a modern version of the classic Blue Note sound, you no longer have to search out pricey Criss Cross label imports, the one label that has tried to put out Blue Note quality CDs with young jazz artists as leaders. Now you can throw the OA2 label into the mix.
Sillery is blessed again with the assistance of LA based tenor sax player David Sills' working quartet, which features the funky Joe Bagg on organ, Larry Koonse on guitar, and Tim Pleasant on drums. It's a winning combination, an "in the pocket" tenor sax/organ quartet, and with the addition of leader Sillery, you've got a true Blue Note-sounding quintet. The co-leaders split the composing duties, each writing four tracks and adding Lee Morgan's Ceora on the ninth track.
Guitarist Koonse guitar fills add much to the mix as Grant Green would to Blue Note sessions as a sideman. On Fontok, Koonse passes the Grant Green test with flying colors. Sillery's trumpet is clear, warm, and forceful enough when needed. David Sills' tenor tone adds a nice compliment to the front line and an apt comparison would be the simpatico that Hank Mobley brought to a Lee Morgan led session. Sillery and Sims have that same flow, a meshing that seems effortless at times, but not sloppy, just a real meeting of styles. It's especially noticeable on Fontok and Down the Line, but evident really on all the tracks on this CD.
Sloe Joe is a nice feature for for saxist Sills, who plays with ease, never deviating from the groove that Bagg, Koonse, and Sillery set. Sillery sticks primarily with the middle register of the trumpet which blends so nicely with the guitar and organ. It's "comfort food" for the ears.
What I enjoyed most on Sillery's CD is the lack of showboating or grandstanding. It's rare that a young band can set a groove that veterans take years to develop. It helps that Sills' quartet is a well oiled working band that can provide an ego-free ride for the leader's sweet trumpet voicings. You CAN get a 1960s sound in the 21st Century. Sillery's quintet can do it efffortlessly, or as they say, "on the fly."