On what seems in this context like a different jazz planet is trumpeter JASON PALMER's Nothing To Hide (Steeplechase). It's not just that this is a trumpet/saxophone quartet. Palmer is a regular in Grace Kelly's band and has been one of the jazz standard bearers at Wally's Café. (He was also one of the stars of last year's locally made film romance Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench.) The new album (unlike his previous, all-original Songbook on Ayva) makes no bones about its hard-bop sympathies: seven of its nine tunes are drawn from the player/composers at the heart of that book: Clifford Brown, '50s Miles Davis, Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Booker Little, Freddie Hubbard. Nothing wrong with that — Palmer's quintet play it all with precision, grace, and the right bluesy feel. And they know how to break up an arrangement with subdivided features for alto (a graceful Mike Thomas) and bass (Lim Yang) or guitar (Greg Duncan) with rhythm (Lee Fish is the drummer). Best of all is Palmer, who builds fire with his secure tone and the cool deliberation of his solos. His band play Scullers (scullersjazz.com) on March 15.

Finally, tenor-saxophonist DONNY MCCASLIN (coming to Scullers March 9), one of Gary Burton's post-grad recruits from Berklee early in his career, has become not only a sideman whom bandleaders can depend on for brains and brawn (Dave Douglas, Maria Schneider, Mingus Dynasty) but an impressive leader in his own right. His latest, Perpetual Motion (Greenleaf), works the funk hard and well, sometimes explicitly ("Memphis Redux"), sometimes in a more abstract electric-Miles way ("L.C.Z.M"), with Fender Rhodes (Uri Caine or Adam Benjamin) and electric bass (Tim Lefebvre) stirring the pot. He brings another extraordinary band to Scullers: pianist Taylor Eigsti, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Antonio Sánchez.

 

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