Terell Stafford Quintet: Philadelphia, PA, February 25, 2012
"Yes I Can, No You Can't" gave drummer Dana Hall an opportunity to manifest a heavier style of drumming, with echoes of Sonny Payne's highly driven work with the Basie band. At various junctures, he did some exceptional brush work and at times caught Stafford's energy and took the drums out of town. There was then a quieter interlude where Stafford and Warfield traded fours. If it had been a contest, Warfield would easily have won as his subtle changes left Stafford in the improvisational dust.
The post-intermission chat, a traditional element of the Jazz Up Close Celebrates series, consisted of WRTI DJ Maureen Malloy raising questions and issues with Stafford. The latter emphasized his indebtedness to the late great Art Farmer, whose disc Something to Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn (Contemporary, 1987) partly inspired Stafford's recent CD of Strayhorn's compositions. It was unfortunate that Lee Morgan's work was hardly touched upon, leaving a noticeable vacuum in the discussion.
Morgan's "Heavy Dipper" provided a starter for the second set with a straight-ahead rhythm that gave Warfield an opportunity to incorporate a Coltrane touch into his playing. "Stop-Start" provided Hall with a foil for an extended, hard driving drum solo. The evening concluded, perhaps all too deliberately, with "Sidewinder," which but for Stafford's brilliant soloing was too imitative of the classic Lee Morgan arrangement. However, a nightcap was hardly needed to finish off an exciting evening of music that amicably captured Lee Morgan's essence and legacy.
Victor L. Schermer