The ebb and flow of Ralph Lalama’s tenor saxophone produces a plethora of jazz-style musings and sonic combinations layered with the chic, bop-inspired cuts of his brother, pianist Dave Lalama. The brothers are joined by bassist Peter Washington, drummer Kenny Washington, and special guest Joe Lovano on soprano saxophone for the Lalama Brothers new recording Erie Avenue, a homage to the street where the brothers were born and raised in West Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.
The doodling of Lalama’s sax looms an infectious buoyancy through “Two for Two” featuring Lovano’s parallel synchronization on soprano sax. The two create a big band sound as their chord patterns entwine and cauterize the track supported by the agile flexing of the rhythm section. The album shifts into the romantic ambience of “Portrait of Jennie” as Lalama’s saxophone flares and soars sculpting melodically smooth silhouettes. The flexible bending in Lalama’s frilly trimmings through “Five Brothers” have a vintage bebop countenance that pulls back in the center as the bass rotations take front and center crafting a nostalgic sound reflective of jazz music’s yesteryear.
The suave sway of the saxophone in “Nofrey and Jeannie” has a melodic flow fringed in the candlelight inlay of the elegant tone of the keys. The track has a succor touch that is reminiscent of a bedtime lullaby and serene sonatas. The album kicks up the tempo in “Four Brothers” jutting out into bebop-tinged acrobatics and freestyle musings on the part of the musicians. The organic exchanges between Lalama’s saxophone and his brother’s keys are loaded with vigor and a keen sense of timing.
The gentle gait of “Till We Meet Again” has a refinement that propels reposing aesthetics as Lalama’s saxophone flutters and converses poetically in the listener’s ear. The music casts a spiritual lift through “The Gospel According To” with the soft bluesy flames of the piano and saxophone wafting gracefully. The album closes with “Everything Happens to Me,” a blues-based number with milky keys and vocals that emote the sorrow of a lovelorn relationship while drawing out a resilient spirit.
Erie Avenue is a product of the Lalama brothers’ talent and experiences performing jazz. Their melodic sensibilities are reflective of the agility found in vintage bebop while taking excursions into new terrain. Their sonic combinations have influences taken from the past as well as the present, making for a recording which cultivates a sound that links multiple generations of jazz musicians.
Ralph Lalama – tenor saxophone, Dave Lalama – piano, Peter Washington – bass, Kenny Washington – drums, Joe Lovano – soprano saxophone
Erie Avenue, Two for Two, Portrait of Jeannie, Five Brothers, Nofrey and Jeannie, Four Brothers, Till We Meet Again, Firm Roots, The Gospel According to, Everything Happens to Me