Change Is Comin’
Serving It Up
On The Wings Of Icarus
If this disc was a book you could say that its narrative direction is slippery, seductive, and just a little suspiciously off-beam. Things start out
innocuously enough with a kind of Basie-Nat Pierce piano intro to Change is Comin’ before Gospel preaching takes over with exchanges between
leader Tony Lustig’s eager, urgent baritone sax and Michael Dease’s muted trombone. Then a call and response ensues leading to some Beginning to See the Light quotes – never my favourite feature, quotes, I have to admit. This catchy Gospel swinger shows sure awareness of the
music’s lineage but is in no way pastiche. The righteous down-home feel continues in Fraytown powered over an excellent bass line (Ben Williams, a
tower of strength, and one who can take an arco solo with the best of them).
Around this point narrative surprises unfold. Having got used to Lustig as a staunch gospel purveyor he shows some powerful bop chops in Prometheus and Fort Wayne reinforces the change of stylistic tack, in a performance strong on lyric piano underpin (Samora Pinderhughes)
and suggestive percussion, courtesy of excellent time-keeper Ulysses Owens. By the time we arrive at Serving It Up, some Git-On-Up soul has been
reintroduced to the recital, with an added quotient of raunch for good measure. It’s no surprise to hear a quite lyrical start to On the Wings of Icarus – is there some interrelation between this track and Taking Flight? Another tricksy narrative about flying too
close to the sun, maybe? Whichever, Lustig’s playing here gets incrementally jubilant and life-affirming. The final track, Burnin’ Grease returns
to the opening movements in its elemental lineage-based homage, this time to the Blues. This, added to a hint of Blue Note formality, ends the disc on an
attractively generous note.
All compositions are by Lustig and this would normally earn condemnatory scorn from me, who values a sprinkling of standards. However, I’ll make an
exception here as his themes are strong, he covers a variety of styles and writes good, malleable but strong themes. I should think this fiery and tight
band must fire on all cylinders on club dates.