August-7th-2003, 03:09 PM
Tom Varner - Second Communion
This is one of my favorite purchases so far this year. It's from 2001 and features Tom on French horn with Tony Malaby on tenor, Cameron Brown on bass and Matt Wilson on drums. Guitarist Pete McCann and trumpeter Dave Ballou round the group out to a quintet and sextet on some tracks.
The title refers to Don Cherry's classic Blue Note recording "Complete Communion" which featured Gato Barbieri, Henry Grimes and Ed Blackwell. Varner's group covers the entire "Complete Communion" suite and "Elephantasy" from that recording. They also cover "Cherryco" from the Cherry/Coltrane LP "The Avant Guard". The remaining tracks are all by Tom.
They do more than justice to the Cherry compositions and the original compositions are your typical intricate and interesting Tom Varner compositions. Malaby (sounding like Dewey Redman at times), Brown and Wilson (echoing Ed Blackwell at times) all shine. Varner's playing puts him at the very front of improvising French horn players today (Mark Taylor - you are too!). He get's such a nice jazz sound out of a instrument that I've been told is horribly difficult. It almost sounds like, but not quite like, a bone at times.
Get this if you don't already have it. Hell, everything I've heard under Tom's name is great - "Long Night, Big Day" was one of my favorite CDs of the 90s. Speaking of that one, where's Ed Jackson these days - a great alto player that played with Tom a lot?