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A different take on local jazz scene

By Kelly Jocoy

SBE Records: 2007

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This review first appeared in the November 22, 2007 issue of the North County Times.

Drummer Kelly Jocoy, who played in Peter Sprague's The Dance of the Universe Orchestra back in 1978 before giving up music for some years, has now issued a CD as leader. Local music fans, though, are likely to recognize most of the cast surrounding the now LA-based Jocoy. In addition to Sprague (guitar), the band here includes Tripp Sprague on reeds, Mike Wofford on piano, Tommy Aros on percussion and Darek Oles on bass, with Leonard Patton lending his velvety pipes to vocals on several songs.

While the lineup has very much the feel of a Peter Sprague outing, this is much harder bop than Sprague tends toward, with few of the Latin or Brazilian influences that flavor Sprague's music.

And so with Jocoy leading the session, we get a set of both jazz standards and pop nuggets presented in a straight-ahead to bop jazz vein. There are covers of songs by Ron Carter, Jaco Pastorious, Pat Metheny and Wayne Shorter, plus the Zombies' "Time of the Season" and the Beatles' "And I Love Her," plus "My Romance" from the Rodgers & Hammerstein book. All of them are performed with a classy supper club air of swing and elegance, sometimes displaying a bit of muscular brawn in the soloing.

It's always fun to hear Sprague backing others, because his playing tends, as mentioned, toward a Brazilian groove when he's leading – here, he's in full-on bop mode, and it's a pure delight to hear him tearing through a gorgeous solo on "My Romance." Wofford, too, has played mostly as a leader the last decade or so – hearing him in a supportive role, comping tastefully behind the other soloists before stepping out for his own take is a reminder of why this hugely talented pianist was Sarah Vaughan's accompanist at one time.

Jocoy's own drumming is low-key yet solid throughout – this is a man content to lead quietly, providing his friends and sidemen the spotlight. The result is a solid, hugely listenable album of jazz by mostly local players in an environment we don't always hear them in.