Kevin Stout and Brian Booth 5 Good Pals Jazzed5 Records005 Kevin Stout,trombone; Brian Booth, tenor saxophone; Joey Singer,piano; Tom Warrington, bass; and John Abraham, drums. Joey Farina & Andy Newell, trombones; Dan Uhrich, bass trombone; Kevin Stout, trombone/guitar/percussion (My One and Only Love, track 10) CD review by KEN HANLON courtesy of the Las Vegas Jazz Society Since the advent of bebop, the combination of saxophone and trumpet has dominated jazz almost to the exclusion of the trombone. With the exception of a handful of trombonists led by J.J. Johnson, Frank Rosolino and our own Carl Fontana, the technical demands of bop and subsequent style variations left many trombonists behind. However, every now and then, a younger trombonist comes along with the requisite chops, flexibility and technique to belong in that select group. Kevin Stout is undeniably such a trombonist. As with all trombonists who fall within this small talent pool, Stout has the physical equipment and musicality to produce the fluency necessary to stand toe-to-toe with any saxophonist or trumpet player. He has the kind of chops that would allow him to turn around to a member of the trumpet section of a big band who has just missed an extremely high note and say, 'Is this the note you were looking for?' And then play it! Kevin, however, is far too modest an individual to grandstand that way. Instead, he astonishes you by soaring well into the trumpet range with an ease that clearly establishes his ascendancy among modern trombonists, and is also an impressive composer/arranger, having produced three of the originals on the CD along with a fine arrangement of 'My One and Only Love.' Tenor saxophonist Brian Booth is a jazz instrumentalist with whom I was not familiar prior to this CD (a situation that has been happily corrected). He is the perfect musical soulmate for Stout. With a full tone that combines the edge present in most modern saxophone sounds and the warmth of more mainstream players, Booth produces highly satisfying musical lines that are both natural and free flowing. He, like Kevin, is a composer, and is responsible for contributing six captivating originals to the effort. The album's title, Good Pals, was inspired by the long friendship that Stout and Booth have enjoyed, dating back to their high school days in Salt Lake City. Whether due to that friendship or a natural affinity for similar tone qualities, Kevin and Brian produce a unison sound so focused and in tune that the resultant quality is neither trombone nor saxophone, but a timbre that sounds like another single instrument. Their timbral approach to unison playing is highly reminiscent of the old J.J. Johnson Quintet that featured Belgian tenor saxophonist Bobby Jaspar. Good Pals has a decidedly Latin flavor with four of the ten tracks displaying a strong Cuban or Brazilian influence. The effect of the bop style on the writing of these gentlemen is also evident. Both emulate the compositional practice Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie favored: using the chord changes of popular standards as the harmonic underpinnings for new melodic material. Booth uses the changes from 'Just Friends' to render the album's title tune, 'Good Pals,' and 'Secret Love' chord progressions for the track titled 'A Confidential Infatuation.' 'It Could Happen to You' harmonies underlay Stout's melodic line on his Cuban rumba 'Occurriò a Mì.' And in a tip of his hat to the great Carl Fontana, Stout uses the changes of the bop standard 'Confirmation,' a tune Fontana recorded with Super Sax, for his own composition,'Por Seguro.' Stout and Booth have the good fortune to be supported by a superb rhythm section, the members of which turn in some stellar solo work of their own. From John Abraham's driving solo intro for the first track, 'Otie's Rhythm Swing,' to the joie de vivre of Joey Singer's many solo contributions, as well as Tom Warrington's nimble and thoughtful solo lines, this trio really cooks. Booth's solos produce long flowing lines that could easily be mistaken as pre-composed except for the relaxed ease of their delivery. Kevin's every solo is masterful, especially the long, slowly building set of choruses he takes on his own 'Red, White and Blues.' While I have the highest regard for this album, I would like to have heard some harmony and or counterpoint between the horns before the fourth track. While the horn unisons write the book on how unisons should be performed, the preponderance of unison heads becomes somewhat monochromatic. The horn harmonies used in Booth's 'Waltz for Natalie' or Stout's arrangement of 'My One and Only Love' provide welcome variety. Wonderful counterpoint like that between Brian and Kevin on the out choruses of 'Song for Geoffrey' and especially 'Waltz for Natalie' would have provided further variety in the texture. However, these are minor suggestions for a truly outstanding jazz CD. With exceptional originals, impeccably performed, and superb solos by the entire quintet, it is a musical delight from beginning to end. Ken Hanlon is a trombonist and professor of music at UNLV where he also serves as director of the Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center.