Eric Jacobson blazes. In person, the naturally powerful Milwaukee trumpeter has long conveyed the impression: "I'm gonna cut anybody here, and all comers." That's fueled some willfully dynamic solos. With trumpet poised, his muscular angularity recalls an Italian Futurist sculpture. So, Discover comes as a surprise, perhaps as a self-discovery, trading competitiveness for musical and artistic maturity.
The tune "Discover" arose from the experience of his father's death, prompting a "search for meaning and personal identity," writes annotator Rick Krause. The album opener "New Combinations," has a Jazz Messengers ensemble feel, amiable yet muscular. "Discover" follows immediately: with a pensive, nostalgic tone and a forward-looking sense of form, Jacobson's solo toggles between tender memory and rising resolution, akin to Freddie Hubbard's gift for colorful storytelling. But not derivatively; he's expanding post-bop's wheelhouse of modernity.
Tenor saxophonist Geof Bradfield complements coolly, spinning webs of finely suspended arabesques, recalling Warne Marsh, but with a warmer tone. Pianist Bruce Barth emerges inventive and versatile, capable of delicate touches, a la Hank Jones. The album's hot/cool dynamic still accents the lyrical, with Blue Mitchell's bluesy "Sir John" as the ballsy ballast. The Dizzy Gillespie tune is not bop pyrotechnics but one of Dizzy's soberest ballads, "Con Alma." Jacobson pointedly closes with one of the repertoire's most poignant and socially-aware odes, about a man nicknamed "Old Folks," crying out for Deedette Hill's lyrics. One thing we don't know about "Old Folks"
Did he fight for the blue or the gray?
But he's so democratic and so diplomatic
We always let him have his way
In the evenings after supper
What stories he tells
How he held his speech at Gettysburg for Lincoln that day