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Exploring New Frontiers

21 MAY 13 CHRIS SLAWECKI

New Jazz Frontiers From Washington (Original Jazz Classics, 1999) presents The JFK Quintet, which was discovered playing in the U.S. capital by Cannonball Adderley. Upon Adderley's recommendation, the Quintet recorded this 1961 debut (which he also produced) for Riverside Records, Cannonball's longtime musical home.

Although named to honor President Kennedy, this Quintet makes no political statements. Their energetic and enthusiastic hard bop says it all. Andrew White's alto sax and Ray Codrington's trumpet burn deep into the classic alto/trumpet bebop front line sound while bassist Walter Booker Jr. nails the rhythm section down tight.

White flutters a bit like Bird through "Cici's Delight" and the ballad "Dancing in the Dark." Codrington sounds inspired by Miles Davis' stark, smoldering sound on the swinging blues "Nairod" and ballad "Polka Dots And Moonbeams." And you'd swear that the rollicking "Aw-Ite" and thick, hot "Hominy Grits" boiled over from Adderley's overflowing pot of soulful, bluesy jazz, spooned out by hot trumpet and stirred by crisp alto.

Washington seems like one town where good ideas go to die, and this Quintet proved no exception -- it released only one more album. But soon thereafter Booker jumped in as bassist for Adderley's band, where he played on such landmarks as Inside Straight (OJC, '95) and the all-star career retrospective Phenix (Fantasy, '99) and remained until Cannonball's fatal 1975 stroke. Codrington played for years with Eddie Harris and more recently with Nnenna Freelon on Homefree (Concord Jazz, 2010).