Trumpet player Benny Bailey has spent so much time abroad that few others besides the informed jazz fan know his name. Even few others realize that he was a sideman with Dizzy Gillespie and Lionel Hampton in the 1940s and later with Quincy Jones, and has been a member of a number of top European orchestras over the last 25 years.
Friday night at the One Step Down he teamed up with a fellow Gillespie alumnus -- tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, a former member of the Ellington band and a longtime associate of Telonoious Monk.
Bailey's attack, timbre, rhythmic sensibility and conception of phrasing amount to a style of classic proportions. On the ballad "Lover Man," he alternated squeezed-out, half-valve cries that ran shivers up the spine with a full sound that melted the soul.
"Blue and Boogie" was a roller coaster that defied gravity and human limitations as Bailey's horn ripped, careened and lunged straight ahead. Rouse's tenor was equally urgent, with one phrase rolling out of another.
Pianist John Malachi, who mastered the bop idiom in Billy Eckstine's 1940s band; that individualists of the bass, Marshall Hawkins; and drummer Bernard Sweetney are the rhythm section of this stellar group.