Readers in the UK may not be familiar with the work of Scott Reeves. Indeed, until I received a copy of this intriguing recording he was an unknown quantity as far as I was concerned. Let me tell you that it turns out he is an esteemed scholar/performer recently retired from full time academic work and active on the New York scene where he performs with many better known luminaries as well as playing trombone in the big bands of Dave Liebman and Chico O' Farrill. Additionally, and most significantly he leads his own 17-piece orchestra and fronts an innovative quintet on a pair of unusual wind instruments, namely the Eb alto valve trombone and the Eb alto flugelhorn.
These produce a sound that sits midway between the trumpet and trombone, not dissimilar to that of the bass trumpet which some may remember from the playing of Cy Touff in the Woody Herman band. In this recently unearthed recording from 2005 the sound of Reeves' instruments has been electronically modified here and there to impart a soft burr or fuzziness to their timbre, adding a touch of frissons to the naturally sombre tone. These darker sounds are effectively offset by the more crystalline emanations from the guitar and keyboards in a series of Reeves compositions that combine post -modern complexity with a touch of street-wise attitude and svelte balladry. Herein resides Reeves' musical alchemy; in a variety of through-composed narratives, brooding nocturnes, minor key musings and exotic modes he provides a wealth of inspirational source material to fire up absorbing solos from all involved who reveal themselves as musicians of the highest calibre.
The album closes with the one standard of the set, a funk driven rendering of `All or Nothing at All` as if to underline the fact that notwithstanding the eclectic diversity of the preceding pieces the appeal of jazz music's core values is not forgotten.