The Matt Gordy Jazz Tonite Sextet release their latest album Be With Me at the end of January 2022. This is only the drummer’s second album release as leader despite having had a forty year successful career as one of the first-call jazz drummers in Los Angeles. The album comprises of six jazz standards and four of Gordy’s own compositions.
Eddie Durham’s ‘Topsy’ gets the ball rolling with an upbeat tempo of straight-ahead jazz and Gordy’s experience as a drummer of many years is clear from the outset. Supporting horns and piano play their part in bringing this tune alive and the bass of Chris Colangelo is solid throughout: a good start to this album. Chris opens ‘You and The Night and The Music’ with a good bass solo. The unison horns follow a very brief drum solo. The bass continues its path, and the piano then adds its voice before the horns start their solos – all of which are very enjoyable (see video below).
A Gordy original, ‘Camouflage’, comes next with its mid-tempo swing/funk vibe. I particularly enjoyed the piano playing of Alan Pasqua on this number. This was the first opportunity to hear Matt Gordy’s compositional voice and I liked what I heard. ‘Spring Ahead’, another original, is a contrafact dedicated to Chick Corea and based on his jazz fusion composition ‘Spain’. ‘Spring Ahead’ is a fine track played at pace but always in a controlled manner. The horns once again excel and, for me, Ron Stout on trumpet stood out from a very strong crowd. It takes a confident musician and composer to base an original on a classic and make it work and Matt Gordy succeeds on both counts.
‘Cloe’ happens to be the name of Matt Gordy’s granddaughter and this tune is dedicated to her. The tune has a delightful lyricism to it and saxophonist Jeff Ellwood brings that to the fore with his playing. I also enjoyed the full warm tone of Ido Meshulam on trombone with Alan Pasqua’s piano in a supporting role before adding his own solo lines. The title track, ‘Be With Me’, features vocalist Sherry Williams singing the lyrics written by Gregg Arthur. This is a beautifully played, and sung, ballad. Alan Pasqua pitches his piano accompaniment just right, as does Matt Gordy on drums, a very fine example of how to write a good jazz ballad.
Mal Waldron’s ‘Soul Eyes’ is a tune written with John Coltrane in mind and in this version, Gordy has captured that feel of a late fifties jazz classic. This is a terrific track, which gets better with each playing – particularly the further into the tune you get – and full credit must go to Jeff Ellwood on sax for playing with such style. ‘Wheatland’ has an after-hours jazz bar feel to it, sultry laid-back playing, moody with plenty of light and shade. The bar is empty, and the musicians are simply enjoying playing the music for each other: an evocative piece of writing, which I really enjoyed.
Oscar Peterson’s Canadian Suite number ‘Wheatland’ is another well-played cover and, as with other tracks on this album, the horns are in fine form and the track plays through with a well-paced swing. The piano and bass play very well together in the latter stages of the track before the horns kick back in to bring the tune to a close. The pop classic closes the album with Sherry Williams once more providing the vocals. This is a great arrangement and with Sherry’s mildly rasping delivery is a good tune on which to bring the album to an end.
I very much enjoyed listening to this album and would happily add it to my collection once it has been released. I like Matt Gordy as drummer, arranger, and composer. His playing is understated but just right for each of the tracks included on this album. This is a good sextet who I should enjoy seeing live if that opportunity ever arose.
Musicians: Matt Gordy – drums & arranger; Chris Colangelo – bass and electric bass; Ido Meshulam – trombone & valve trombone; Alan Pasqua – piano; Jeff Ellwood – sax; Ron Stout – trumpet & flugelhorn; Sherry Williams – vocals.
Tracklist: 1. Topsy. 2. You and The Night and The Music. 3. Camouflage. 4. Spring Ahead. 5. Chloe. 6. Be With me. 7. Soul Eyes. 8. My Shining Hour. 9. Wheatland. 10. Sunny