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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Tony Lustig Quintet – Taking Flight

Tony Lustig (baritone saxophone, bass clarinet): Michael Dease (trombone): Samora Pinderhughes (piano): Ben Williams (bass): Ulysses Owens, Jr.(drums)

Recorded at Concert D Studios, undated




Change Is Comin’



For Wayne

Taking Flight

Serving It Up

On The Wings Of Icarus

Burnin' Grease.


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.

Jonathan Woolf

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