Clifton Anderson, Decade (Doxy)
Trombonist Clifton Anderson, for nearly 25 years the second-horn man to saxophone giant Sonny Rollins, indeed has grown as a player and improviser over the course of that long residency with his uncle.
For his first record as a leader since 1997, Anderson is joined on most tunes by longtime Rollins bassist Bob Cranshaw (on acoustic, rather than electric, for 5 of his 6 tracks), sometimes Rollins drummer Al Foster and pianist Larry Willis. He offers a warm bone sound and impressively fluent improvisations on a set of music — up-tempo swing, blues, standards “I’m Old Fashioned” and “We’ll Be Together Again,” rollicking calypso “Ah Soon Come” — that wouldn’t be out of place at his day job.
Particularly appealing is the tonal blend Anderson achieves with alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett on Anderson’s medium-swinging “Z” and briskly moving “Stubbs,” a tribute to late saxophonist John Stubblefield, who initially had been slated to play on the album.
Both of those tracks, along with a snappy remake of the Bread soft-rock hit “If,” benefit from the playing of a younger rhythm section — pianist Stephen Scott, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Steve Jordan. Eric Wyatt, on Rollins-esque tenor, makes a strong showing on Anderson’s “Aah Soon Come” and his blues “Deja-Blu.”
Anderson plays dates in Arkansas, California and Texas through May 3, and heads to Europe this summer. For more information, check his site.