Joe Alterman, Big Mo & Little Joe Review


Joe Alterman, Big Mo & Little Joe Review

Big Mo & Little Joe: A Harmonious Garden of Tradition, Mentorship, and Jazz Renewal

by Jeff Becker

Joe-Alterman-CDThe luminous fragrance of jazz’s golden age comes alive in Joe Alterman’s heartfelt homage to his mentor and close friend, the legendary Les McCann. Brimming with emotion, Joe Alterman Plays Les McCann: Big Mo & Little Joe serves as a loving bridge connecting the old and new generations of jazz, painting a musical landscape that resonates with authenticity and verve.

From the opening strains of “Gone On And Get That Church,” the listener is taken on a blues-infused journey, where gospel meets jazz in a harmonious dance. Alterman’s deft touch on the piano, infused with the swing and rhythmic elegance of the gospel tradition, complements the powerful yet nuanced support from bassist Kevin Smith and drummer Justin Chesarek. “Gone On And Get That Church” is a jazz blues with the cross-pollination of gospel, not just any gospel but that old school quartet style gospel of the days when jazz musicians would leave the all-night jam session and go straight to church to play for the choir and aiding the preacher in his message.

“Someday We’ll Meet Again” showcases Alterman’s ability to traverse various emotional landscapes. The bluesy motif he crafts and masterfully develops over the course of his solo speaks to the enduring influence of McCann’s gospel-infused language. The patience and profound creativity evident in Alterman’s playing hold the listener captive, tethered to each melodic turn and harmonic nuance.

“Beaux J. Poo Boo” stands as a testament to both the innovation of McCann and the interpretative wisdom of Alterman. The performance, drenched in soul and precise in execution, offers a vivid portrayal of McCann’s unique style, adapted seamlessly to the acoustic trio format. The strength of McCann’s compositions shines through, illustrating a lineage of blues, gospel, and soul that continues to influence contemporary jazz artists.

Big Mo & Little Joe is an enthusiastic celebration of the gospel-rooted jazz tradition. The attention to feel, both in the spaces between the notes and emanating from the heart to the listener, renders the album a timeless piece, speaking to jazz veterans and new comers alike.

Alterman’s profound understanding of his mentor’s work and his intuitive connection with his fellow musicians create a unified voice that resonates throughout the album. As you listen through the eleven tracks, the exploration by this next generation of jazz players results in an album that is not only fun but profoundly moving.

In the end, what makes this album resonate is the genuine connection between Alterman and McCann’s philosophy, the loving interplay of notes, and the unspoken understanding that jazz is, indeed, a philosophy of life. It’s a celebration of tradition being passed on to the next generation, a charge of stewardship to keep the legacy alive and vital. Joe Alterman Plays Les McCann: Big Mo & Little Joe is a delightful garden where jazz blossoms in full color, its flowering a joyous heralding of a new jazz spring. Each song carried forward sows the seeds for the next generation to tend, germinate, and grow through the flowing waters of respect, study, and belief in preserving jazz’s roots. This album is not merely a performance; it is a promise, a dedication, and an affirmation of the unbreakable continuity in the rich garden of jazz.

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