It's a veritable who's who of Detroit jazz talent on this anticipated new double-disc release from bassist Don Mayberry. It feels like a huge family reunion, with vocalist Dennis Rowland, pianists Tad Weed and Kenn Cox, trumpeter Dwight Adams and multi-saxophonist Vincent York, plus two obscure compositions from late pianist Teddy Harris Jr. But there's a slight problem in that Kaleidoscope lacks consistency, as well as the gritty bass playing that's always been Mayberry's trademark. Usually, when a group of Detroit jazz musicians assemble, they have loads of fun. And the first disc is proof of that, with some noteworthy solos. Dennis Rowland's rendition of "Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me," for example, is really sweet, and Harris Jr.'s "Passion Dance" reminds us how truly special the pianist was. However, the second disc of Kaleidoscope is oddly lifeless. Mayberry doesn't stand out as the frontman here, and this is strange because this album could have been his declaration as a bandleader. Instead, he seems content to deflect the attention to his friends and supporting players. That's OK, in part while the musicians contributing are undoubtedly some of Mayberry's favorites, an homage to their skills might have been better served as its own project, reserving the majority of the spotlight on Kaleidoscope for Mayberry himself.
Charles L. Latimer writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].