Trombonist, composer and band leader Scott Reeves once performed a live concert at the City College of New York with his then quintet, which has now been documented as his newest offering entitled The Alchemist. However, new is not the operative word here, as this musical event took place on May 5th, 2005. While concentrating on compositions and recordings for his jazz orchestra over the last ten years, the pandemic provided Reeves with the opportunity to review the music he had previously recorded and subsequently archived. This rediscovered session is now front and center and available for new audiences to enjoy.
Reeves takes the lead on the alto valve trombone and alto flugelhorn in collaboration with electric guitarist Russ Spiegel who shares the melody lines with pianist Mike Holober. The trombonist rounds out the rhythm section with veteran New York musicians, bassist Howard Britz and drummer Andy Watson, forming an excellent group of players who produce a vibrant sound. While the repertoire is short (only six tracks), the music is quite engaging.
Delivering a funky jazz element at times, the one standard, five original project highlights changes from the Gil Evans tribute piece "Shapeshifter," to the title-track and Miles Davis tribute to the soft bossa-like "Without A Trace." The session ends with two of the best tunes on the disc: the ballad- like "Remembrances" and the funky-styled version of "All or Nothing at All," perhaps something that Frank Sinatra may not have approved of but still, one jazzy take on an old classic.
The music is both intricate and accessible evidenced by the many moments of audience applause conveying their obvious approval. There are also plenty of solos from members of the band in particular, the leader, guitarist Spiegel and pianist Holober.
The Alchemist is quite a pleasant surprise from veteran Scott Reeves, bringing to mind, what other treasures must he have in his archives? What other pandemic productions may be percolating out there? Time will tell.