Chris Rogers – Voyage Home
(Art of Life– AL1045-2. CD Review by Frank Griffith)
NYC born and bred trumpeter Chris Rogers‘ 2017 CD release Voyage Home was recorded in 2001 but has clearly been worth the wait. It features a first class NYC lineup which includes the late saxophonist, Michael Brecker (1949-2007) on a few tracks. Chris’ late father, trombonist, Barry Rogers, was a close muscial associate of Brecker’s, most notably as co-members of the innovative jazz/rock group Dreams that emerged in the late 1960s.
Happily, all of the remaining sidemen on this CD are very much still with us today. They include saxophonists Ted Nash and Roger Rosenberg, guitarist Steve Khan (son of composer Sammy Cahn), pianist Xavier Davis, bassman Jay Anderson and drummer Steve Johns.
What a sublime crew, all of whom more than deliver the goods on nine self-penned selections by Rogers. Many of these tracks are dedicated to the late influential figures who played a role in forming Rogers’ efforts and inspirations, and include Brecker, Lew Soloff, Mike Lawerence, Ray Baretto, Don Grolnick and Chris’ father, Barry.
Rogers’ impeccable trumpet playing, articulate, adventurous yet highly musical, is eminently showcased while keeping within the overall context of the musical whole of the CD. This is equally evident in his compositional and arranging talents which offer ballads, hard boppery, funk and blues, all in rip-roaring fashion. Chris writes: “Listening to Mike, Randy (Brecker) and my dad playing together and all of Barry’s great solos on those classic Eddie Palmieri sides pretty much informed my concepts – and have been towering influences upon me – that the music here can be considered a direct reflection on their incredible spirits.”
Brecker is sensational on the album opener Counter Change – a burning hard bop blues. His full-bodied yet edgy solo blazes a trail for an exhilarating Rogers statement followed by a two-fisted Davis solo offering. Similarly Whit’s End, a deftly syncopated romp driven by an insistent piano/bass ostinato that enables the saxist guru to reach untold heights in his solo with gutty incandescence. For this listener, a truly climactic moment of the entire recording.
Despite the lengthy period between recording and release of Rogers’ debut, it will forever last in the memory and sets the tone for extremely good tidings to come from this powerful and individual artist.