Review by Brad Walseth
Another great young player comes our way from the East Coast; this time it's young trombonist Robert Edwards, whose debut release, Let's Cool One, demonstrates a superb combination of youthful energy, a knowledge of classic jazz styles and hard-earned skills. Edwards, a protegee of trombone masters Steve Turre and Mike Dease, has assembled a cast of young talent that is a true pleasure to listen to. Edwards, trumpeters Alex Nguyen and Keyon Harrold (guesting on two tracks, pianist Zaccai Curtis, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Mark Whitfield Jr. (son of the jazz guitarist) are joined by trombonist Dease, who in a surprising twist, is featured on tenor saxophone - and shows a fine command of the instrument. Who knew?
Songs include four mature compositions from Edwards the haunting "Colleen's Incantation," the hard-charging "Looking Glass," a tribute to trumpeter Ryan Kisor ("Like Kisor") and the album-ending quartet piece, "Past Presents." These along with well-played numbers (some deliciously arranged by trumpeter Thomas Barber) by Cedar Walton ("Firm Roots"), Thelonious Monk (the bluesy title track), Johnny Green ("Body and Soul") and Turre's tribute to Rahsaan Roland Kirk, "One for Kirk." The players are well schooled in the tradition: traces of players like McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, and especially in Edwards case, Slide Hampton, can be readily heard. Liner notes are written by Claudio Roditi; Do you begin to understand the pedigree involved here?
Listeners who enjoy their hard bop and straight ahead tunes presented "old school," will truly enjoy this solid and warmly recorded collection, full of tasty solos by all involved. Edward's technique is impressive, with notes played so fast and cleanly, one might suspect he is performing on a valve instrument. Dease shows he may have another career possibility as a saxophonist with his interesting and tasteful work. Pianist Curtis, and the two trumpeters involved all would seem to exhibit the necessary skills needed to succeed in the jazz world, as do rhythm section mates Oh and Whitfield. All involved, thankfully, know how to swing - a good sign indeed, in these troubling times. I would suspect we will hear more from Edwards and many of these talented players in the future.