This is Liam Sillery's debut album, a tribute to his mentors who include Red Rodney and Joe Henderson. Sillery plays trumpet and flugelhorn and has been active in New York for some time. He also attended the University of Florida and the Manhattan School of Music. The supporting musicians include David Sills (tenor sax), Jesse Stacken (piano), Thomas Morgan (bass), and Richard Huntley (drums). I have not heard Sillery's name or any of his sidemen before, but I certainly hope to hear more from them in the future.
All of the songs were written by Sillery, except track 6, "You Are So Beautiful," a Billy Preston/Billy Fischer tune. The songs consist of three upbeat numbers, two mid-tempo numbers, a ballad and a blues. Since Sillery wrote this music as tribute to musicians like Joe Henderson and Red Rodney, it's no surprise that it has a strong 60's Blue Note/Jazz Messengers feel. Still, Sillery and crew inject their own manner and keep the music fresh. Sillery's tone is bright and articulate on boppish numbers, warm and lyrical on ballads. His style and sound is his own. In addition to Sillery's excellent writing and playing, this album benefits from strong playing by the rest of the band.
Highlights include the title track which opens the album, a hard-charging, up-tempo number. Sillery and Sills solo over changes, followed by Stacken and Huntley. David Sills' tenor solo on "Dial D for Dial" swings nicely and he trades fours with Sillery in the opening and close of the tune. "Cecil's Bridge" features some outstanding drumming from Huntley. Huntley deftly adds colorful cymbal work and accents around a funky rhythm. Pianist Stacken contributes a thoughtful, lyrical solo to "Prana." Bass player Thomas Morgan doesn't get any solo time; his playing however, is faultless throughout.
Sillery's solid writing, the band's superb musicianship, and great sound from engineer Manfred Knoop combine to make Minor Changes highly recommended.