By Bobby Reed | Published February 2018
Fans of straightahead jazz should check out the compelling new album Straight Forward by the sextet New Faces. Producer and label head Marc Free’s stated goal with this disc is to provide a “representation of the musical aesthetics and operational ethos of Posi-Tone Records.” Because each member of New Faces is a gifted bandleader, this album serves as an intriguing calling card for trumpeter Josh Lawrence, vibraphonist Behn Gillece, tenor saxophonist Roxy Coss, pianist Theo Hill, bassist Peter Brendler and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza. The first half of the program features interpretations of gems from the Posi-Tone catalog—including pianist Jon Davis’ catchy composition “Happy Juice,” originally recorded as a piano trio number—and the second half focuses on newer compositions, including two from Lawrence and three from Gillece. The catalog songs are delivered with inventive new arrangements, exemplified by “Delilah Was A Libra,” which originally appeared on guitarist Edwing’s 1995 album, Trapdoor, and here becomes a showcase for Gillece’s luminous vibraphone tone. Lawrence’s “Hush Puppy” highlights the band members’ ability to spice up an arrangement with individual contributions—Lawrence’s muted trumpet, Hill’s fluid pianism, Sperrazza’s concise interludes—while serving the song as a whole and avoiding grandstanding. The program concludes with the bluesy swing of “Preachin’,” a composition from organist Jared Gold, who doesn’t play on the track but gives Lawrence a vehicle for a fine and mellow solo.