Trumpeter Derrick Gardner, former sideman to the orchestras of Count Basie and Harry Connick Jr., founded The Jazz Prophets upon arriving in New York City in 1991. With swinging arrangements and soulful soloing, the hard-bopping sextet takes its lead from the classic sounds of 1950s and ‘60s ensembles led by Art Blakey and Horace Silver. For A Ride to the Other Side, Gardner is joined by trombonist and brother Vincent Gardner, tenor saxophonist Rob Dixon, pianist Anthony Wonsey, bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Donald Edwards.
Following the soulful, feel-good opener, “Funky Straight,” the high-octane title track brings out inspired front-line solos with modern edginess. The Blakey-inspired “Mac Daddy Grip” has an insatiable, toe-tapping effect courtesy of Whitaker’s larger-than-life walking pulse and Edwards’ driving shuffle groove.
Gardner’s thorough understanding of the jazz trumpet lineage is showcased throughout the disc. The trumpeter evokes the spirit of Lee Morgan on “Bugabug” and Woody Shaw on “Of Infinity.” Bill Lee’s captivating ballad “Be One” demonstrates a serene, assured tone from the big band veteran.
Aside from moments of predictability, A Ride to the Other Side is a solid outing for Gardner and his torch-bearing collaborators. The playing is of the highest order and the vibe is downright infectious.
Track Listing: Funky Straight; Ride To the Other Side; Mac Daddy Grip; Be One; Bugabug; God's Gift; Lazara; Just a Touch; Of Infinity.
Personnel: Derrick Gardner: trumpet, flugelhorn; Vincent Gardner: trombone; Rob Dixon: tenor saxophone; Anthony Wonsey: piano; Rodney Whitaker: bass; Donald Edwards: drums; Kevin Kaiser: percussion.