Sam Burckhardt - "A Walk in Time"

(Airway Records)
Sam Burckhardt

Review by Brad Walseth

Was wandering down the street with time to kill during the Jazz Fest - had a few hours to go before Nicholas Payton's Miles tribute - so hit the Jazz Record Mart for a bit and then decided to stop in Andy's for a crispy pizza. Was relaxing with a Sam Adams, when a Sam of a different, but no less tasty flavor hit the bandstand, as tenor saxman Sam Burckhardt and his tight band came on and blew me away.

Possessing a smoothly confident style and a tone so sweet it could be packaged as Swiss chocolate and sold at a confection shop, Burckhart won me over and caused me to seek out his "A Walk in Time" recording, and I was not disappointed. A former founding member of Chicago's neo-swing "Mighty Blue Kings," the Swiss-born sax player has moved in a more tradional direction, while still maintaining a sense of fun. Surrounded by a talented cast of musicians, Burckhardt pays tribute to the ghosts of the past, without being a nostalgia act. The supporting musicians swing and support admirably - pianists Pete Benson, Tom Vaitsas and Dan Nimmer add tasty lines - each in a somewhat different style, while the horn section of Doug Angelaccio (who also provides clever arrangements), Juli Wood, Chuck Parrish and Jason Wick are solid. Bob Carter and Corey Radford fill the drum roles nicely, and guitarists Kyle Asche and Dan Peters pitch in with admirable layering. Bassists Marlene Rosenberg and Patrick Williams propel things forward, and it is abundantly clear that Burckhardt knows a thing or two about chosing sidemen (and women).

"Sunday Morning Boogaloo" opens the CD with it's good time feel, jingling guitar from Peters and a Williams bass line so chewy you could lose teeth on it. "Samba Ease" continues the fun in a slightly new direction and other uptempo tracks like the saxophonist's own "Spring Blue," "Kittiwake," and the incredible "Splankly" showcase Burckhardt's writing chops, as well as his ability to play strong and fast without showing off and detracting from the song itself. But it may be the ballads like the title track, Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing," the lovely original "Dondessa's Waltz," and the old Bing Crosby, Victor Young, and Ned Washington penned chestnut "I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance" where the tenor player's smooth clean lines shimmer most and inspire the most admiration.

Well worth picking up - "A Walk In Time" is a wonderful addition to anyones's jazz collection, and a snapshot of a young tenor player who is still growing in ability, and I would recommend checking out his sets when he plays Andy's in the future. One can only imagine what the future will bring for Burckhardt, but I am interested to listen and find out.

Check out Sam at Airway Records

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Contact Brad Walseth and JazzChicago.net at bwalseth60@aol.com

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