Jazz & Blues Review – by Ron Weinstock
Chris ‘Doc’ Stewart is a world-class alto saxophonist who developed his talent before entering into his day job as an ER physician at the famed Mayo Clinic. This is the second CD of his big band, Resuscitation, comprised of musicians that he associated with in his pre-medicine days that include a number top studio and jazz musicians in the LA scene. Some of the more prominent names here include pianist Matt Catingub, bassist Kevin Axt, drummer Steve Moretti, trombonists Bill Reichenbach Andy Martin and Scott Kyle, Trumpeters Wayne Bergeron, Jeff Bunnell and Ron Stout, and saxophonist Bill Liston. Arrangements are by pianist Catingub and Tom Kubis, who co-wrote the centerpiece of this album, “Code Blue Suite,” with Doc Stewart.
Stewart advises that the four-part “Code Blue Suite” “tells the story of life and death I see everyday in the ER.” The bluesy roots of Stewart’s music here is evident on the opening “Code Pink – Born to See Blues’ that celebrates birth and the uncertainty life brings, followed by “Ironman Blues – Dig Me Man!.” This part has a definite fifties-sixties Basie feel about it with strong playing from Reichenbach and Bergeron in addition to the leader’s own playing. “The Last Breath Blues – All
Alone Now” opens with some unaccompanied playing from Stewart before to starting a bluesy riff with the rhythm and its leader getting very heated before a segment incorporating some emergency room effects a spoken part before a sharp ending. The concluding part of the suite, “Code Jesus – New Life,” is quite lively and celebratory with nice playing from Stewart and Stout, but kudos also to Axt for his electric bass playing.
The remainder of the album includes performances associated with Cannonball Adderley, including the driving “The Sticks”; a spirited Bobby Timmons’ “Dis Here”; Adderley’s ”Introduction to a Samba” and Oscar Pettiford’s “Bohemia After Dark.” Stewart’s previous big band album was a tribute to Adderley and his music publishing company is Cannonball Jazz. The big
band arrangements are nicely done and with the solid soloing providing nice framing for what were originally small group performances. The leader certainly plays with a fluid, robust bluesy attack. Kubis contributed a lovely ballad, “Tribute to Bud Shank,” while Catingub contributes a bright, brassy arrangement for “Poor Butterfly”‘ as well as the lightly swinging treatment for “The Way You Look Tonight,” with Andy Martin’s trombone solo of note.
“Code Blue!” is a is recording that should have wide appeal with first rate soloing and swinging ensemble playing by this excellent big band.