Drummer Jay Lawrence has a long and serious resume which includes teaching, composing, arranging, and working with everyone from Sammy Davis and Cher to Phil Woods and James Moody. While he's been on more than ninety recordings, this is his first as a leader -- and it's a corker.
This is partly because Lawrence couldn't have chosen better shipmates for his maiden voyage: Lynn Seaton, an always-in-demand bassist whose playing is unusually rich, imaginative, and moving; and (relative) newcomer Tamir Hendelman, whose reputation for superb arranging and piano playing has grown exponentially in the past decade.
Thermal Strut is almost a musical history lesson. It offers exciting versions of "Topsy" and "Love for Sale," and honors a wide pantheon of disparate composers like Jimmy Rowles ("Peacocks"), Herbie Hancock ("Tell Me a Bedtime Story"), Tom Jobim ("Agua de Beber"), Horace Silver ("Opus de Funk") and Lennon/McCartney ("You Can't Do That," perhaps the first jazz cover of this tune). Rounding out the program are two engaging Lawrence compositions -- the rousing title track and the poignant, meditative "Eulogy" -- and one lyrical beauty by Hendelman ("Almost Summer").
This trio sets new standards for class and swing, and the solos are unusually consistent in their deep expressiveness. A few of the many notable moments on Thermal Strut: Seaton's signature scatting on the opener, Hendelman's funky arrangement of "Agua de Beber," Lawrence's churning approach to "Topsy," and his intricate, swinging brushwork, wherever it occurs.
There's just one more thing to say about Lawrence's thoroughly enjoyable debut: it's about time!