On this superbly conceived and performed nine-track program, trombonist and composer Steve Turre proves that he is as much a master of fashioning grand concepts as he is of conquering the demanding intricacies of his axe. On this tribute to his mentor, the late trumpeter Woody Shaw, Turre crafts nine distinct moods, drawing on the dramatically divergent approaches of five guest trumpeters and the contributions of a small army of rhythm-section vets who provide an array of mainstream jazz, Afro-Cuban and Brazilian shadings.
The set opens with the title tune, an up-tempo blues ’n’ bop creation that features trumpeter Jon Faddis’ signature upper-register forays while spotlighting the hand-in-glove execution of Turre’s core rhythm team of drummer Dion Parson, bassist Buster Williams and pianist Xavier Davis. On the next track, “Something for Sweets,” an easy groovin’, Basie-esque swinger, Faddis’ mellow, muted sound recalls the late trumpeter Harry Edison. With trumpeter Wallace Roney on board, the result is somewhat more adventurous on Turre’s suite-like “In Retrospect,” which begins as a lush, reverential ballad before a heavy backbeat announces a harder driving, funk-influenced attitude.
Claudio Roditi’s “Annette’s For Sure,” the disc’s only non-Turre composition, is a bouncy jazz samba that’s set up by the leader’s warm conch shell tooting and the steely resonance of Duduka Da Fonseca’s berimbau (a single-string Afro-Brazilian percussion instrument). Later, octogenarian Cuba-born valve man Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros is featured on “Manny’s Mambo,” a tribute to the late bandleader Manny Oquendo, in whose Conjunto Libre the trombonist honed his Latin jazz skills. Relative newcomer Freddie Hendrix and his trumpet help Turre wrap up the session with the album’s two closing tracks. A standout take is another Shaw-inspired work, “3 For Woody,” a blues-rooted tune with a ’60s soul-jazz vibe.
With its engaging spirit, wide-ranging stylistic variety and top-flight playing, Woody’s Delight has all the makings of a certified classic. —Mark Holston