Joel Penner Sextet,
The Church of the Little Black Dog
(Sea Breeze, 2005)

Joel Penner is not trying anything new on this CD, but then he doesn't have to. The Church of the Little Black Dog is mainstream without resorting to either smooth jazz or the overdone funk/fusion '70s sound.

Penner on trumpet and flugelhorn, with Michael Rose on sax, provides a full sound as they range from familiar tunes like "My Funny Valentine" and Freddie Hubbard's "Straight Life" to the lesser known "The Windup" by Keith Jarrett and "Tombo in 7/4" by Airto Moreira. One of the eight tracks is an original, "T&G," by sextet guitarist Doug MacDonald. The sextet also gives an interesting spin on "Laura," creating a Latin sound with the help of guest percussionist M.B. Gordy, who appears on four songs.

Penner's sextet has an upbeat, propulsive sound. It has a big band feel, lively and solidly arranged, without any of the jarring nature of be-bop or experimental jazz. Penner, Rose and MacDonald provide wonderful, full tones over the rhythm section of Cengiz Yaltkaya on piano, Bill Von Ravensberg on bass and Steve Pemberton on drums.

Incidentally, if you look up Joel Penner on the Internet and come across a Dr. Joel Penner who practices Oriental medicine, it is the same person.

by Dave Howell
18 November 2006

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