Jazzreview.com readers who live outside of the Chicago area will probably be unfamiliar with Jo Ann Daugherty and her music. Raised as a Midwestern farm girl, she attended Truman State University in Missouri. Daugherty moved to Chicago in 1998, where she got involved with the Chicago Jazz Composers Collective, a group of local musicians who perform monthly at the famous Green Mill jazz club.
Range of Motion is Daugherty’s second release and a significant evolution from her debut, a trio outing of standards and originals. Daugherty wrote all nine tracks and the instrumentation has been expanded to include guitar, saxophones, trumpet and trombone. The key element here is diversity. The instrumental groupings include two trios, four quartets, two quintets and a sextet. But it’s the myriad of styles and influences that show off Daugherty’s creative style.
The album begins and ends with a couple of quartet tunes featuring guitarist Neal Alger. "Out of Round" has a modern Monk-like flavor; while "Heading Out" has a blues/gospel influence in the spirit of the Gene Harris Quartet. Daugherty is a selfless composer; the piano doesn’t dominate the music here at all. Both piano trios highlight the rhythm section and the interplay of the instruments. The funky "Harold’s Tune" has a terrific bass solo from Lorin Cohen, while "Still" highlights graceful bass playing from Larry Kohut and delicate brush and mallet work from Ryan Bennett. Mitch Paliga plays tenor and soprano sax on five of the tunes, while Tito Carillo (trumpet) and Tom Garling (trombone), contribute to two tunes each. One small error: the notes have the trumpet and trombone reversed on tracks two and seven.
Range of Motion signals the maturation of Jo Ann Daugherty as a musician and composer. Her playing is sensitive and restrained, never flashy. She writes accessible, intelligent music that you enjoy immediately, yet subtle details are uncovered with repeated listening. For jazz fans that enjoy discovering new and talented artists, Range of Motion is warmly recommended.