Alvin Queen Trio Feeling Good (Stunt Records 2024)


Snappy and happy American-Swiss veteran runs the gamut from Tin Pan Alley to firmly rooted post-bop.

Alvin Queen - Feeling Good


Carlton Holmes (piano, synthesizer), Danton Boller (bass), Alvin Queen (drums)


on September 26-28 at Tedesco Studio, Paramus, New Jersey


as Stunt Records 24041 in 2024

Track listing

Out Of This World
It Ain’t Necessarily So
Waltz For Jamal
Bleecker Street Theme
Love Will Find A Way
The Night Has A Thousand Eyes
Spartacus Love Theme
Feelin’ Good
Firm Roots
Send In The Clowns
Falling In Love With You
Someone To Watch Over Me
Three Little Words

Alvin Queen is reported as saying that for all their excellence he’d rather not record with celebrity jazz stars. Instead, intent on leaving egos at the door, he prefers to work with relatively unknown musicians that deserve wider attention. An admirable stance, though it’s saddening to realize that interesting star line-ups, that most everybody in the jazz realm will be able to imagine, will never see the light of day. The last half decade, Queen has stayed true to his words and released two Oscar Peterson tributes with bright young lions from Denmark and Sweden.

Here’s another one for the books. Drum legend Queen, whose life story reads like a jazz fairy tale, chronicled among others by Flophouse in two parts here and here, assembled pianist Carlton Holmes and bassist Danton Boller. No stars perhaps but, mind you, guys with impressive credentials. Holmes is an experienced musician that played with a diversity of greats as Lionel Hampton, Freddie Hubbard, Branford Marsalis and Diane Reeves. Boller was a pinnacle of Roy Hargrove groups and cooperated with Mulgrew Miller, Ari Hoenig, Steve Nelson, Robert Glasper, among others.

An excellent pairing. Whether the music is like stormy or sunny weather, or sweet or peppery soul food, the trio’s playing is marked by uncommon airiness. Jazz in its purest form, a mix of swing, melody and interaction, needs to breathe and Queen & Co, three guys that interact like kids jumping on a trampoline, know it all too well. Holmes’s touch is subtle and his lines flow gracefully from head to tail, abetted by the solid and lyrical bass playing of Boller and by Queen, Mr. Precision, dynamic and always a servant of the song and the ideas of his fellow jazz cats.

He’s still only 73, but it seems as if he’s been around forever. That’s because Alvin Queen was barely thirteen when Elvin Jones took him under his wing and he never looked back, a shoeshine boy on the streets of Manhattan that migrated to Geneva, Switzerland and the fruitful jazz realm of Europe, mingling with giants like Ray Brown, Sweets Edison, Guy Lafitte, not least enriching the classic piano trio format with Oscar Peterson and Kenny Drew.

It’s all the more fitting that Queen included Out Of This World and The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, classics that have arguably been re-invented most imposingly by the John Coltrane Quartet, with Elvin Jones behind the kit. Queen’s vivid cross rhythms and driving rolls markedly take those two standards to the next level. The former’s light-footed bossa coda is a nice touch.

Diversity and re-invention is key. Oldies like It Aint’ Necessarily So are turned into a shuffle, Someone To Watch Over Me into a lovely solo piano piece, contrasting nicely with an epic, impressionistic take on Send In The Clowns. Holmes adds a touch of mellow synth on Love Will Find A Way, taken from a 1977 album by Pharaoh Sanders. The meaty, Latin-tinged version of Feeling Good makes everybody happy no doubt, as will Cedar Walton’s Firm Roots, that starts with a stunning drum intro, mixing Afro-tones and Billy Higgins in thunderous fashion.

As you may have noticed, interesting repertoire. Brought back to life outstandingly by the latest installment of the Alvin Queen Trio.

Alvin Queen Trio

Buy Feeling Good here, here or here.

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