Review by Jean Timmons
Trombonist Jay T. Vonada composed and arranged all the selection on Jammin', his debut recording, which he has also produced. His resume thus far reflects an ambitious serious musician who had decided to become a jazz artist. From John Philip Sousa Award winner in high school to college bands and jazz festivals, Vonada has been putting in the time and making connections with more seasoned players. His sidemen on this music, also from central Pennsylvania, are Adam Kurland (keyboards), Jacob Hibel (bass), and John Sullivan (drum).
For influences, Vonada has acknowledged that his studies and improvisational style keyed on Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and J. J. Johnson. Jammin' is straight ahead jazz. There is a clear sense of direction in each composition and the musicians swing well together. Sullivan and Vonada have known each other since high school. Each player holds his own in solos and, as for Vonada, he is already beginning to sing with a trombone, no mean feat. On "Anthracite" he floats on air and brings the band, particularly the pianist, with him. It's a sweet band; and the up tempo, cleverly written compositions, such as "Three Tons," "Red Ash," and "Mina," feel particularly well suited to them as is the jazz ballad, e.g., the simple and sweet "RoseAnn." On the other hand, a few more years of jazz playing will prepare them to handle the blues. A little gem in the rough. Vonada is a jazz musician to watch.
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