Jan 17 2015
Using the thought & form of 1970s TV show theme songs as his inspiration point, guitarist David Ullmann put together one of the more melodically rich albums in 2014. The melodies on Corduroy have a memorable quality that rivals those of that decade’s classic themes. However, what seals the deal is Ullmann’s thoughtful attention to the way in which harmony pushes the sale of the melodies on an album where, really, the melodies sell themselves.
He opens things with the upbeat “The Chase,” a tune with a hard charging Rockford Files tempo. Making use of his entire cast, Ullmann builds plenty of room for soloists to step up and drive. “Ocelot” isn’t far removed, but works a Barney Miller groove instead of a determined beat. “Papaya,” too, scoots right along, but with a Chico & The Man optimism.
Title-track “Corduroy” takes it nice and easy, some shuffle and some sway and the warm embrace of a Welcome Back, Kotter. There’s a nifty shift in tempo, too, on “Something You Said,” but here it performs a WKRP switch between a darting motion and smooth glides. The sadness of “You Can’t Go Back” has an incongruous warmth that fits like a pea in the same pod with M*A*S*H “Suicide is Painless.”
“Champ” staggers into the room, each step an unpredictable one. But then it gets its engine going and dives headlong into a Starsky & Hutch car chase, especially in the appealing way the different instruments stagger atop one another near its conclusion, intertwining in the most fascinating pattern, much in the same way car engines, crashes, and gun shots blend into the cop show theme groove.
The album ends with “Moving On,” a song that bleeds the imagery of a late-night taxi cab crossing the Queensboro Bridge at the end of its shift and heading down New York streets just beginning to drift off to sleep. It’s a logical, lovely way to roll the credits on this very fun album.
Your album personnel: David Ullmann (guitar), Kirk Knuffke (cornet), Brian Drye (trombone), Mike McGinnis (clarinet), Loren Stillman (alto sax), Chris Dingman (vibraphone), Gary Wang (bass) and Vinnie Sperrazza (drums).
Released on Ullmann’s label, Little Sky Records.
Jazz from NYC.