Downbeat Magazine Review
It would be easy to hear the ensemble cohesion, flawless execution and attention to dynamics on this album and conclude that the L.A. 6 enjoys a residency at some venue. Those slow-cooked elements that differentiate a band from an occasional aggregation are all here. But while these six musicians know each other well from bandstands, studios and informal jams, this is not a continually working group that hones material and arrangements and battle-tests it on the stand over a long period of time. It just sounds that way.
Trumpeter Clay Jenkins, trombonist Ira Nepus, tenor saxophonist Tom Peterson, pianist Rich Eames, bassist Jeff D’Angelo and drummer Dick Weller are some of the finest Southern California players from the 40-plus age group. As a small band that espouses big band values, L.A. 6 extends the traditions of West Coast jazz made by the Lighthouse All-Stars, Shorty Rogers and His Giants, and Gerry Mulligan’s bands. While some material here is external (“I Wish I Knew,” “How About You,” “You’re My Thrill,” “If I Should Lose You,” Frank Strazzeri’s “Frame Of Mind,” Sonny Stitt’s “Eternal Triangle” and Oliver Nelson’s “Yearnin’”), the charts and half the tunes come from the band. The arrangements and playing tie it all together.
The embarrassment of riches includes the febrile tenor on “Triangle,” Jenkins’ lyrical, pure-toned trumpet (the feature on his own “Love Is Kind” channels the best of Chet Baker), Eames’ lush horn writing on his “The Elms,” the Latinate snap of Peterson’s “Thrill” chart, Nepus’ soulful blues trombone on “Yearnin’,” Weller’s fire-under-the-kettle drumming and D’Angelo’s flexible strength throughout. This is one of those rare recordings that will continually reward you as you play it through the years. —Kirk Silsbee
Frame Of Mind: The Eternal Triangle; Sight Seen At Twilight; Wonder Where You Are; I Wish I Knew; Love Is Kind; How About You; The Elms; You’re My Thrill; Frame Of Mind; If I Should Lose You; Yearnin’. (65:46)
Personnel: Clay Jenkins, trumpet; Ira Nepus, trombone; Tom Peterson, tenor saxophone; Rich Eames, piano; Jeff D’Angelo, bass; Dick Weller, drums.
Ordering info: jazzedmedia.com“