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Wally Shoup Trio - Blue Purge

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Artist: Wally Shoup Trio

Album: Blue Purge

Label: Leo

Review date: Jan. 17, 2005

Three doesn’t necessarily make a trio; and this is ostensibly the case with Wally Shoup’s new “trio” recording, Blue Purge. The onus isn’t on the brass, either. Shoup’s alto is big on guise: pliant, scrappy, and lachrymose. But his sparring partners have yet to fill their technical – or emotional – armoires. Drummer Bob Rees sounds often like a tepid Joey Baron at his most free, clattering on dampened, or clutched, cymbals; rattling rims, unveiling small, staccato snare presses. Sure, this doesn’t sound bad, but unlike Baron, Rees never moves free of the colorist’s role and out to the forefront, to carry or provoke the ensemble. If it’s out of respect, that’s one thing; but Rees merely sounds hesitant; and when reacting to torpidly bowed figures tossed his way by bassist Reuben Radding, he resorts to unattractive thuds and fizzing – instead of crashing – accents.

This is not to say that the whole of Blue Purge is a wash. The tracks “Gut Luv” and “Get Me One” are extraordinarily cogent pieces, slowly shaped and decidedly the least volcanic of the lot. Shoup is the real standout here, his alto slinking around – hungry, horny and engaging both impulses in a greasily deliberate manner. Rees and Radding contribute some off-camera instruction, but it’s mostly ignored. Ayler’s First Recordings come to mind here; and “Gut Luv” could have been easily one of the lost Ayler tracks from the old Stockholm years, when Al was getting teed up with pickup rhythm sections whose prowess would’ve freaked the crowd at an octogenarian wedding in the ‘30s. Well: same shit, different era.

Ultimately, Blue Purge is more like blue balls. Those familiar with Shoup’s recordings enlisting the wunderkind Corsano and Co. won’t be roused by this threesome.

By Stewart Voegtlin

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