Debut albums as leader don't come more accomplished or more highly recommendable than "Dark Wood, Dark Water".
Trumpeter Chad McCullough has assembled a three horn front-line backed by an accomplished rhythm trio that allows the full range of his writing and arrangement talents to emerge.
The sextet - Chad McCullough (trumpet, flugelhorn), Mark Taylor (alto sax, soprano sax), Geof Bradfield (tenor sax, soprano sax), Bill Anschell (piano), Jeff Johnson (bass), John Bishop (drums) ? benefits from the presence of two gifted sax players alongside the leader, allowing full-voiced harmonization and vibrant soloing throughout.
The eight original compositions are complemented by a successful take on the Lennon/McCartney song "Blackbird".
The ballads "Lock Down", "Home", "Bock's Car", "Dreamscape" and "The Oracle" stand out for their originality, their expressiveness and their more than occasional summoning up of real beauty. Bill Anschell's piano playing is of special note here. But then, this is an almost perfect sextet in which both bass and drums also play an essential part alongside the horns.
The more uptempo material - "Three Pillars", "Nightmare's Dance", "Anatomy Of A Conscience" ? is just as successful, allowing the soloists to feature to great effect.
A highly accomplished album. Strongly recommended.