by Jeff Becker
Saxophonist, arranger, and vocalist Lance Bryant originally hails from Markham, Illinois, but resides in the New York/New Jersey area. He received his formal music education at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, where he studied saxophone, composition and arranging. After moving to New York City in the mid-1980s, Lance continued his tutelage, studying saxophone and arranging privately with Frank Foster, the former director of the Count Basie Orchestra. He also studied composition with Bruce Adolphe of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society. In 1990 Lance began his decade-long relationship with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and in 1993 became the Orchestra’s Musical Director and Principal Arranger. A debut into the film industry with Spike Lee’s Malcolm X is also a shining spot on his resume, including extensively traveling with Phyllis Hyman, Jon Hendricks, Pete “LaRocca” Sims, Wallace Roney, Abdulah Ibrahim, Bootsy Collins, James Williams. His talents as an arranger, composer, saxophonist and vocalist have been featured on many projects: For the Love of Jazz on Mojazz Records (Lionel Hampton), Dem Bones and Simply Natural on MaxJazz Records for Grammy nominated vocalist Carla Cook, Swingin’ Away.
On this latest tri-leader offering Do For You? featuring drummer Jason Marsalis, and bassist Christian Fabian, features special guest artist Gates Thomas on keys on select tracks, firmly rooted in the jazz idiom, with a splash of blues, this latest endeavor is guaranteed to delight.
Sporting eight original tunes with four written or co-written by Fabian, the trio/quartet offers a connected sound that varies from a big greasy N’awlins swing, to a slathering of grooving beats.
An easy going traditional swing is featured with bop-inspired lines by Bryant, who is front and center on “Five Minute Blues.” Marsalis and Fabian create an easy going swinging pad for Bryant to profess upon, with prodigious results. “Never Again,” offers an up-tempo feeling with quick stabbing melody lines, the trio is up for the task and digs in with heartfelt cohesion.
“If You Never Come To Me,” highlights Bryant on vocals, his style is that of a seasoned horn and his lines articulate his vast experience as a saxophonist in his delivery. In contrast, “Weather Forecast,” is given a groovy treatment with Marsalis digging in, almost with metronomic perfect timing, with Fabian matching his intensity and groove.
The album closes with “Hey Its Me You’re Talking To,” a neck break speeding swing feel, that flurries with notes and gumption from the entire trio. Locked in a symbiotic sensation, Bryant lays his solo out strong and with command. The trio shows their true moxie on this cut and we are treated to a delightful reminder of what true swing really sounds like.
Aptly titled Do For You, as certainly this album DID it for me! This will be a prized piece in my collection.