By Hrayr Attarian
Sam Robinson Sweet Love of Mine
Sam Robinson – Trumpet
Scott Angst – Tenor saxophone
Michael Walters – Piano
Gabriel Datcu – Guitar
Nicholas Davis – Bass
Linard Stroud – Drums
Over the past several years trumpeter Sam Robinson has performed—both scheduled and impromptu gigs—at various venues in the greater Chicago area. His debut recording, Sweet Love of Mine, features musicians he met during his live appearances and is somewhat in the form of a jam session. Although each track is a single standard, the loose structure of these renditions brim with ad lib spontaneity.
The effervescent title piece, for instance, has Latin hints and showcases several band members within a dynamic rhythmic structure. Saxophonist Scott Angst blows his tenor with gusto and delightful abandon while Robinson embellishes the main theme with elegant restraint and muted tones. Drummer Linard Stroud exchanges exciting and thunderous vamps with the rest of the group before the concluding head. The contrasts are quite captivating.
Stroud’s rumbling beats open the warm “What is This Thing Called Love.” The ensemble interprets this Cole Porter song with romanticism and grace. Guitarist Gabriel Datcu improvises with agility and sophistication. Robinson follows with an intelligent extemporization that has a burnished sound and simmering passion.
Robinson criss-crosses the complex “Simone” with his long, meandering lines—adding a shimmering vibrancy to the tune. Recorded live, reedman Frank Foster’s classic is the album’s focal point. It also allows bassist Nicholas Davis to demonstrate his lyricism on a contemplative and melancholic solo.
Robinson and Angst engage in an eloquent duet on “Body and Soul.” Their crisp phrases flow effortlessly and sparkle with inventiveness. Pianist Michael Walters builds his intriguing soliloquy with chiming, crystalline notes and angular cascades. The often-played melody takes on a refreshingly modern veneer as the quintet charmingly deconstructs it with originality and poise.
Sweet Love of Mine documents a lively and animated set. Robinson and his sidemen are definitely in sync with one another. The fun they had creating this music is clearly audible throughout the release. Moreover, the work’s ebullience transmits to the listener as well.