By Jackson Sinnenberg | Published March 2019
On If You Could See Me Now, trumpeter and hard-bop apostle Joe Magnarelli romances compositions of cultish composer Tadd Dameron. The way he presents Dameron’s work, within an archetypal bop setting, exemplifies his love of the music, effortlessly broadcasting his affection. Magnarelli’s tribute, culled from a live performance at New York’s DiMenna Center for Classical Music, also captures what makes Dameron’s material so compelling.
Magnarelli’s arrangements are joyfully played by a quintet featuring airy, Golson-esque tenorist Ralph Moore and pianist Anthony Wonsey. Most are unhurried and swing subtly with a Sunday-afternoon-stroll sort of ease. For “On A Misty Night,” Magnarelli accentuates each note in the head, like he’s pressing honey from the bottle, squeezing the full syrupy mellifluousness out of the melody. On the title track, an idyllic introduction by Wonsey sets the stage for Magnarelli, on flugelhorn, to make the case for the beauty of Dameron’s writing. Wonsey shines as a soloist, too, conjuring a system of twinkling notes like stars hanging over the rest of the band, gently propelled by bassist Dezron Douglas.
If You Could See Me Now reflects a fan’s passion and dedication to discovery. And while many numbers are Dameron signatures, others, like “Sando Latino” rarely are performed. The quintet’s tribute to Dameron might not seek any deeper interpretation of the composer’s work; and that’s fine. Sometimes, it’s nice—and necessary—to appreciate a work’s bare essence.
If You Could See Me Now: Lady Bird; On A Misty Night; Bula Beige; The Tadd Walk; If You Could See Me Now; The Dream Is You; I Think I’ll Go Away; Sando Latino; Super Jet. (62:06)
Personnel: Joe Magnarelli, trumpet, flugelhorn; Ralph Moore, tenor saxophone; Anthony Wonsey, piano; Dezron Douglas, bass; George Fludas, drums.