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Nothing Smooth About It by The Mike Frost Project

While it doesn’t break any new ground, the recording debut of the Mike Frost Project offers a thoroughly satisfying hour of listening pleasure. The combination of classic tunes and the full sound of a sextet yields a blend that is hard to go wrong with. Mix these two elements with impeccable playing and tight arrangements and you have an album that one never tires of. While the arrangements and solos are spot-on, they never seem slavish. This is in part to the ease with the band plays through them, sounding as if they have been play together forever. As the album progresses, one immediately loses the sense that this is a modern recording, instead being transported back to the heyday of hard bop.

Starting off with the Rollins staple Oleo, the group quickly establishes its groove. Tight interplay on the opening head immediately shows the band’s strength. Comping on the b3 shows how seamlessly an organ can fit into the bop idiom. Moving into A Night in Tunisia, an interesting variation on the opening showcases the subtle playing that percussionist Tim Mulvenna brings to the group’s sound. Slowing things down a little, the group puts forth a stellar take on You Don’t Know What Love is which showcases guitarists Bill Boris’ single-line solo bookended by two nice solos from Frost. Milestones picks up the pace with the band effortlessly burning through the solos. Taking a turn to the funkier side, Sidewinder gives the band a chance to lay into a tight groove that would make Lee Morgan proud. An homage to Rollins’ Saxophone Colossus days, one can never get enough of hearing St. Thomas and this version is no exception. Taking a turn at the soprano saxophone, Frost adds another fine rendition of ‘Round Midnight to the program. Returning again to the Rollins cannon, we are treated to Tenor Madness though this time around we get to pair up tenor and trumpet, to no less effect. Finishing off this excellent set of music, the group returns to the funkier side with a run through Hancock’s Cantaloupe Island.

A solid set of music well worth repeated listens. Nothing Smooth About is an excellent debut showcasing an outstanding group.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: The Mike Frost Project
  • CD Title: Nothing Smooth About It
  • Genre: BeBop / Hard Bop
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Blujazz
  • Musicians: Mike Frost (tenor, soprano saxophone), Steve Frost (trumpet), Bill Boris (guitar), Tom Vaitsas (piano, B3 organ), Tim Mulvenna (percussion), David Bernat (drums)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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