Recording Date: August 17, 2005
Cityscape is one of those moments where a veteran jazzman places himself in a setting in order to showcase the music he's made - David "Fathead" Newman is beginning his sixth decade as a working musician - what he's learned and where he's likely to travel. The band is a septet, one of the rarer sessions for Newman. His own working band - pianist David Leonhardt, bassist John Menegon, and drummer Yoron Israel - are here, and so are some old friends, like baritone saxophonist Howard Johnson, trombonist Benny Powell, and Winston Byrd on trumpet and flugelhorn. The horn arrangements actually serve to make Newman's trademark warm, easy grooving style even more so. The set opens with "Goldfinger," the classic James Bond theme. Newman's bunch enter in unison on the theme; it's a beautiful call to attention before he takes his solo on the melody, just grooving and blowing. The baritone, trombone, and trumpet here allow Newman a wide base to lift off from, but his well-known restraint is in place here, too. Other fine moments on this disc are the swinging blues in "Bu Bop Bass," full of swagger and humor. Johnson's "Here Comes Sunny Man," has a gorgeous horn chart rooted in gospel and blues but falls out more like Burt Bacharach-meets-Ray Charles. The soul is in there, keeping the elegance form running away with the tune. Newman's flute gets down and dirty in his own "Flankin'," copping a Yusef Lateef-vibe before the band enters and turns the whole thing into a modal blues. Gospel and soul-jazz go head-to-head on "Sneakin' In," another Newman composition with a wonderfully gritty solo by the bandleader. The set closes with "Suki Duki," by Ronnie Boykins. It's fast, knotty, and deeply funky, led by a complex horn chart and Israel's solid backbeat groove. It's takes the album out on such a high note, listeners are left wanting more. And of course, that's the point. Newman's consistency as a bandleader is remarkable and this is yet another session that proves the point. The man is a treasure.
All Music Guide