BRENT LAIDLER — Wouldn’t Be Here Without You (review)

BRENT LAIDLER — Wouldn’t Be Here Without You album cover Album · 2022 · Soul Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Looking for some jazz that’s all about the groove and plenty of soul to go around, Brent Laidler’s “Wouldn’t be Here without You” may be the fix you are looking for. What we have here are ten original tunes that vary from Latin jazz to hard bop and blues, with all of them having that intangible quality that some call ‘catchy’. They are easy songs to latch on to and most of these tracks would probably appeal to jazz fans, as well as those that just dig that ‘good times music’ (Lou Reed’s famous wordage) party vibe. Brent is a long time jazz and blues guitarist who is not better known because he doesn’t have much time for touring, nor does he live in prominent jazz venue city. Instead, much of his time in Indiana is taken with soundtrack composing, arranging, instrument repair and other musical endeavors. Brent lists Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessell and Pat Martino as his influences and reflecting on those bluesy boppers will probably give you a clearer picture of his playing than any attempt I could make to break it down for you.

Bossas and sambas make up a big part of this album, but even those Latin tracks carry a strong B3 driven soul jazz flavor, The organist is Jamie Newman, who should be appreciated for how he flavors his organ sound depending on the track. For the Latin numbers he leans toward that dry lean sound favored by the Brazilian organists, on the hard boppers he goes for that Jimmy Smith percussion, and on the blues tracks he is liable to lay on that soulful vibrato and drenching Leslie. The rest of the band is Mark Russell on trumpet, Ned Boyd on sax, Scott Pazera on bass and Richard ‘Sleepy’ Floyd on drums. None of these guys are big names, but all are capable soloists who go for that in the pocket rhythmic punch instead of excessive flamboyance.

All of the tracks on here are great and could easily find a place on contemporary jazz radio. One top number is “Sunday Mood”, with its noire crime jazz sound featuring Ned on the bari sax. Another top number is “City by the Bay”, with its mysterious mood that is based on the image of a midnight dessert caravan finally spotting its distant destination.
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