Bye Bye Blackbird - Frank Catalano/Jimmy Chamberlin
Frank Catalano – Tenor saxophone
Jimmy Chamberlin – Drums
David Sanborn – Alto saxophone
Nir Felder – Guitar
Demos Petropoulos – Hammond B3 Organ
This recording represents the third collaboration between Catalano and Smashing Pumpkins drummer, Jimmy Chamberlin. However, unlike their expressionist exploration of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme suite, this recording appears to mark a foray into territory that’s more straight ahead. In particular, the repertoire choices and the addition of Hammond B3 master Demos Petropoulos give this album a tone not unlike some of the classic ‘70s Creed Taylor CTI sessions by Stanley Turrentine or Hank Crawford. One of the highlights of the recording is a guest appearance by alto saxophone superstar David Sanborn, who actually played on a few of the CTI sessions in his youth.
Although Catalano possesses his own tenor voice, if Love Supreme Collective was a tip of the hat to John Coltrane, Bye Bye Blackbird is more of a musical homage to tenor saxophone great Stanley Turrentine—in particular, his seminal album recordings Sugar and Let It Go with electric piano/organ groups.
The opening track “Chicago Eddie” is clearly a tribute to Eddie Harris, with Catalano clearly demonstrating his mastery of Harris’ great tenor inflections. Felder follows Catalano with a guitar solo that is pure greasy blues perfection. Both Catalano and Sanborn sound phenomenal on Turrentine’s classic song, “Sugar.” Catalano is particularly in the “Turrentine zone” with his hard swing and blues inflections, while Petropoulos complements him with a supremely melodic organ solo. While Sanborn plays wonderfully on “Sugar,” his solo on “Bye Bye Blackbird” is a particular delight because he rarely gets to stretch out on the Great American Songbook on his own recordings, and also because he plays a remarkable solo over the standard. “Bye Bye Blackbird” also features some excellent trading and a terrific drum solo from Chamberlin.
The group adds a nice mellow mood to the fold with the Miles Davis standard, “All Blues.” Petropoulos is a master on organ here with his crisp articulation and savvy bop lines, while Catalano demonstrates his nimble saxophone technique with his own scintillating solo. Catalano also performs a great pop-jazz arrangement of the classic Etta James vehicle, “At Last.” The album ends on a funky note with “Shakin’,” providing another enjoyable Catalano/Chamberlin collaboration.