Ferrel, Bob - Jazztopian Dream,
Trombonist Bob Ferrel has been described as one of jazz music’s best kept secrets, although he has travelled the world paying his dues. By the age of 19 he was a member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra conducted by Mercer Ellington, and was privileged to work with performers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Nancy Wilson, Johnny Hartman, Della Reese, Cab Calloway, Cootie Williams, Mulgrew Miller, and Kenny Garrett. He spent a year working with Charlie Persip’s “Superband” at the Jazz Forum, before spending six years with Southside Johnny and the Jukes, and recording 3 albums. He is joined on this album by Dwight West (vocals – only three songs contain vocals, the rest are instrumental), Vinnie Cutro (tp), Rob Henke (tp), Joe Ford (as), Frank Elmo (tenor & alto), Roy Nicolosi (baritone, tenor-alto sax, tp and album producer), Sharp Radway (p), Hector Davila (p) Daryl Johns (ab), Ruben Rodriguez (Ampeg Baby Bass), Frank Valdes (assorted percussion) and Steve Johns (d).
I have had a soft spot for jazz led by trombone ever since I discovered Jack Teagarden as a teenager, but what really makes this album stand out for me is not only the musicianship, which is nothing short of outstanding, but also the variety of styles on show. After the opening few numbers one is starting to get a handle on the music, but there is no use in settling back as the third song is Charlie Bird Parker’s “Yardbird Suite”, which really swings. Dwight West has the perfect voice for this type of music, while Bob demonstrates that a trombone is a stunning solo instrument when it is in the hands of a master, and there is no doubt at all that he is a master. This is a jazz album of the very highest quality, and one that any fan of the golden age would do well to seek out.