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Trumpeter nearly steals show from sax star, Horizon

| Saturday, April 12, 2014, 9:16 p.m.

Trumpeter Terell Stafford accomplished a difficult task at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild Saturday night: He practically stole the show from alto sax star Bobby Watson and the band Horizon.

Rising to that height with that band is difficult because the other members of the quintet all are excellent, and the band functions well as an ensemble. Yet in the first of two concerts April 12 at the North Side site, Stafford's horn was piercing, and his solo ideas were quick and plentiful.

Although the other members of the band contributed great moments on their own and in the group setting, Stafford drew the most enthusiastic response.

In some ways, drummer Victor Lewis's “Seventh Avenue South” summed up the whole evening. Stafford offered a solo that was as edgy as the harmonies in that bit of post-modern jazz. Watson followed with a solo that was sizzling. Peter Washington created fast and complex bass lines behind the solo of pianist Edward Simon, and drummer Lewis supplied a powerful heart to the piece on drums.

It was as aggressive as the number before it, “Sweet Dreams,” was laid back.

That sort of difference showed the strength of the band as a unit. The horn work of Watson and Stafford was tight, and supported well by Simon, Lewis and Washington.

The bassist is not a steady member of the band. He was filling in for Essiet Essiet, who is in Paris, working on an album.

The group did mostly original material, but Watson also offered a version of Burt Bacharach's “The Look of Love” and “Young Rabbits,” a piece done by the Jazz Crusaders and written by their trombone ace, Wayne Henderson.

All but one of the numbers were classic, small-group jazz, allowing plenty of space for solos. But “A Moment of Silence” was a short — less than two minutes — jazz chorale that Watson exlpained was his attempt at putting those short memorial pauses into a musical term.

It was a pretty piece of play with no solos — and another example at the teamwork of Horizon.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bkarlovits@tribweb.com or 412-320-7852.

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