• Jonathan Widran

JOHN FEDCHOCK QUARTET, Reminiscence

The freewheeling magnificence of the music, the lengthy spirited solos by every quartet member and the delightful responses of the crowd on trombone master John Fedchock’s sizzling, swinging and deeply soulful live album Reminiscence combine to make a great case for every jazz artist forgoing the studio and recording music in its purest, rawest form.

Fedchock, who launched his career in 1980 with the Woody Herman Orchestra and of late has led a popular NYC based big band, scales down beautifully to a dynamic quartet for a wild weekend of unabashed musical joy at Havana Nights, a now defunct nightclub in Virginia Beach, VA. Not sure why it took Fedchock five years from the time of the shows to release this 7-track gem - but fans of purposeful, lighthearted jazz will find it worth the wait. Fedchock makes the trombone a surprisingly pliable, expressive lead instrument on brisk, engaging originals like “The Third Degree” and “Loose Change,” and finds fresh interpretive, smoldering fires to light on “The End of the Affair” and “You’re My Everything.” The passionate ensembling of Fedchock and veteran jazz virtuosos John Toomey (piano), Jimmy Masters (bass) and Dave Ratajczak is first rate throughout.

A few side notes: Ratajczak passed away in the meantime, giving a truer emotional resonance to the album title Reminiscence. Fedchock also culled a great take of the spark-filled, exotic “Brazilian Fantasy” from a previous visit to the same club with Toomey’s trio (featuring drummer Billy Williams – and felt it fit the essence of the project well enough to include it. There’s nothing in the world as energizing and heart-tugging as live jazz, and the John Fedchock Quartet delivers on a multitude of emotional levels on these fun nights out.

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