Reggie Young,
Young Street
(RGY Entertainment, 2017)

Master bass player Reggie Young, a Grammy Award-winning session musician who has worked with artists such as Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz, Paul Schaffer and Stevie Wonder, and who serves as the bassist (and fill-in musical director) for the Apollo Theater house band, has a list of accomplishments that most jazz musicians would give their talent for. Beginning as a gospel player, he served as a session man on dozens of albums before being asked by the New School to serve as "The New Professor" for a promotion campaign. He has toured with major artists and is constantly in demand.

And he makes fine solo albums. Young Street, his most recent, is about New York City, specifically Brooklyn and Harlem. The songs reflect the energy and diversity of the city, and are based on the rhythms of street life. They bounce like crazy and use many of the various forms of song found in the city: soul, funk, rock hard jazz and gospel -- all of which is fused into an original sound that is compelling, strong and mystical. While all of it is given unity by his bass, which sounds more like a lead instrument than a rhythm one, the contributing musicians flesh out the arrangements and bring strong ideas, solos and unison playing to the tunes.

Bill Holloman's sax and trumpet, along with James Cage's trumpet, give a strong horn presence to the music, while Andrew Swift's guitar complements Young's bass playing beautifully. Unidentified voices soar in the backgrounds, establishing a vocal counterpoint to the instrumental lines.

More a suite, unified by its theme, than a collection of songs, Young Street is among the finest albums I've heard this year.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

14 October 2017

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