Seattle Women's Jazz Orchestra arranger Barry steps out on his own on "Walk All Ways" with a darkly-hued collection of Latin tinged originals. The dark colors stem from the choice instrumentation (which includes a bass-clarinet), the predominantly minor key compositions, the lack of fast tempos and the leader's own dusky-toned cornet. This focus on shadow is not necessarily a bad thing and tracks such as "Prayer" and the title track benefit from Barry's creditable writing chops and his personal reflections of South American influences. There are other streams of influence on offer too: mainstream Jazz, of course, a certain European quality (the accordion and melodica emphasize this aspect) and a bit of Classical music as exemplified by "La Folia" and "Fugue." The leader plays convincingly passionate solos though none quite achieve a complete liftoff. In fact, despite the presence of the fine musicians assembled, I find that the whole session doesn't achieve full ignition. Part of that is due to the emphasis of writing over blowing. The playing simmers without quite reaching a boiling point. It's likely that that effect is entirely intentional on Barry's part and is a consequence of his particular aesthetic vision but I feel that the music promises a bit more that it actually delivers. As I alluded to before, perhaps it is the emphasis on mid-register dark colors and a lack of more animated tempos that contributes to a certain feeling of lugubriousness among many of the tracks despite their melodic variety.
I certainly don't want to give too negative an impression as I think the playing and the music are entirely of a professional standard. Perhaps this is music best heard in two sessions rather than one. Thus, I feel that the CD could have benefited by a zippy track or two interspersed with the more downbeat existing material. Still, the overall quality of the music tips the scale enough to deserve a recommendation despite my reservations above.