Jay Phelps - Jay Walkin’
Many young jazz musicians have been either praised or damned for retro tendencies in the last couple of decades, but Jay Phelps (formerly of Empirical) openly embraces a backward-looking perspective on this debut album as a leader. The Canadian-born trumpeter eschews any fashionable dabbling with hip-hop or electronics, and focuses instead on an old-fashioned swing approach. Just to complete the period feel, he adds corny 40s-style vocals from singer Michael Mwenso, including some scatting on Jackie McLean’s ‘Out of the Blue’ and a rendition of Phelps’ paean to motherhood, ‘I Love My Mama’. I could happily do without that one, but there is no shortage of enjoyable and unpretentious jazz blowing here. Phelps is abetted by a fine band that features rising saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, Jonathan Gee’s excellent piano and Gene Calderazzo’s propulsive drumming.