By Aaron Cohen | Published March 2020
Recording as a valued leader and sideman in numerous contexts for more than 40 years, baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber continues to plow through different, sometimes contrasting, terrains. He convened a challenging saxophone/bass/drums ensemble for Ronnie’s Trio in 2018, and on Four, Cuber delivers an archetypal soul-jazz groove, adding his bari to an organ trio. It’s a classic sound in jazz, but atypical in his own discography. The warm and fluid tone that Cuber brings to this session makes one wonder why it’s taken him so long to front such a troupe. His command of the dynamic comes across in especially vivid colors on ballads like “Tenderly,” as B-3 player Brian Charette dashes Toots Thielemans’ “Bluesette” with funk. Drummer Adam Nussbaum has been a regular sideman in Cuber’s groups, and this familiarity makes for an ongoing and fulfilling dialogue. The drummer’s shifting tones on “Coming Home Baby” might have made Cuber rethink his direction on the fly, although he easily floats over the changes. While Cuber’s approach here is resolutely modern, much of album serves the same function as the organ-jazz idiom did 50 years ago: to rock a club with the same kind of backbone as a much larger band.
Four: Battery Blues; Sidewinder; Motivation; Tenderly; Just Friends; Bluesette; Coming Home Baby; How High The Moon; Sugar; Four. (66:45)
Personnel: Ronnie Cuber, baritone saxophone; Ed Cherry, guitar; Brian Charette, Hammond B-3; Adam Nussbaum, drums.