Tucked deep within an extensive bio that chronicles Brent Laidler’s unique array of musical accomplishments – from renowned instrument repairman to composing and arranging for films, commercials and video games to being a veteran jazz clinician – is the fact that a bout in early adulthood with TMJ led him away from his trumpet playing and back to his first instrument guitar.
Perfectly along those lines of great loss sparking new creative possibilities, the theme of his brilliant, blues and bossa infused new album Wouldn’t Be Here Without You changed dramatically after losing his father and his friend and mentor Tony Zamora (director of the Black Cultural Center at Purdue University) within a day of each other. Laidler was going to title the collection after the punchy, playfully swinging romp “Second Chance” (a nod to the fact that it’s his second recording project) but chose instead to turn the set into a grand session of gratitude for the many musicians, teachers and other individuals who have encouraged and helped shape his fascinating musical journey.
These include everyone from his high school band director (the lush and lyrical “Walt’s Waltz”) to Chick Corea (borrowing chord changes from “Spain” to add extra pop to the bustling title track) and his old bandmates in a variety of Southern and Midwestern blues bands (“Foo’s Blues,” a dynamite showcase for Laidler’s own dazzling chops as well as organ master Jamie Newman). Though his fluid, richly soulful guitar is a dominant thread throughout and he shines on his briskly played, all too brief solos on tunes like the snappy and exotic “You Aint’ the Bossa Me” and the moody, impressionistic “City By The Way,”
Laidler’s lifelong passion for Horace Silver ensures that it’s a true, horn inflected ensemble album featuring the dazzling harmonic interplay (and individual soloing, of course) between trumpeter/flugelhornist Mark Buselli and saxophonist/flutist Ned Boyd.