Jan McDonald Sweet (independent release)
An obvious labor of love, Sweet is 11 tracks of swinging, straight-ahead jazz. Seven original compositions from Jan McDonald (trumpet, flumpet) and producers Bert Dalton (piano) and Jon Gagan (bass) present some of New Mexico’s musical heavyweights—all in in superb settings that range from a duo to a 12-piece orchestra. McDonald plays in a shaded tone with a spare, almost baroque lyricism and an emotionality deepened by its understatement. “My Funny Valentine,” which you probably thought you’d never want to hear again on the trumpet, gets a particularly restrained and touching reading that gives the “repeat” button a workout. The writing is often superb, as in “Sweet Thing,” “Sorry Bastard Blues,” and the opening title track (where trumpeter Bobby Shew’s bright, brassy sound complements McDonald’s darker tone)—all from McDonald’s pen.
The remainder of the praiseworthy crew includes Dave Anderson and Arlen Asher (saxes and flutes); Jay Crutcher and Steve Marsh (saxes); Ed Ulman (trombone); the tremendous rhythm section of Dalton, who gets special notice for his deliciously tasteful comping, Rob “Milo” Jaramillo (bass) and John Bartlit (drums); and the string quartet of Daniel Brandt and Margaret Carpenter (violins), Allegra Askew (viola), and Sally Guenther (cello). Bravi. Get Sweet on CD Baby and iTunes.