By John Barron, AllAboutJazz.com
Shade, Saxophonist Richard Cole’s third release for Origin Records, is a stellar production compiled from various sessions featuring trumpet legend Randy Brecker and a bevy of heavy hitters from the Pacific Northwest. The disc is chock-full of inspired solos, edgy compositions and inventive arranging.
Cole is an aggressive soloist who, much like his saxophone heroes John Coltrane and Joe Henderson, challenges the harmonic boundaries of each tune in search of new and unblemished ideas. The tenor saxophone is Cole’s horn of choice on Shade, however, his soprano playing on “Don’t Breath on Me”— a lyrical waltz written by brother Ronald—is equally brawny and engaging.
Brecker’s trumpet shines on four tracks: “A Shade of Joe,” (Cole’s tribute to Henderson) the Gene DePaul/ Don Raye standard “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” “P.C. Wannabe,” (a variation on Coltrane’s “Mr. P.C.”) and the funky “Red Suit.” His lines are characteristically soulful and inventive.
Bill Anschell handles the bulk of the disc’s piano duties with energetic vigor. The commanding pianist swings aggressively through “Moxy,” his angular compositional take on the Sonny Rollins classic “Doxy.” John Hansen, Randy Porter and Marc Seales each take over the keyboard chair for one tune apiece. Seales’ Fender Rhodes workout on “Red Suit” is one of the stand-out solos on the disc.
The disc contains numerous appearances by top-notch bassists and drummers. Some of the more memorable rhythm section moments come from drummer Gary Hobbs who is explosive on “A Shade of Joe,” and bassist Jeff Johnson who plays an extended solo intro on “Beautiful Love.”
For those unfamiliar with Cole, this disc should leave no doubt as to the magnitude of his musical strength. The brazen display of emotional range emanating from the man’s horn is overwhelming. Shade is a sonic delight from start to finish.