Flying piano - it's Bruce Barth highly listenable to just as he was a few years ago doing a club date with Jerry Bergonzi in Soho - opens proceedings exuberantly.
Oasis incidentally not a tribute to the Gallagher brothers, Bonehead, Guigsy and Tony McCarroll or indeed timed for midnight thanks to Maria Muldaur (no need for a bellydancer or sheep for that matter) but instead the name of a Gregg Hill song at the end is a retro hard bop album picking up reasonable amounts of airplay on jazz shows in the US that may appeal most to Art Blakey fans.
It's the latest of fine straightahead double bassist Rodney Whitaker's songbooks stocked by pieces of composer Hill's that follows Outrospection and Common Ground.
'Puppets' with lovely muted trumpet from Terell Stafford is where the album starts to get more interesting. The Hill piece has also been covered by Randy Napoleon and Whitaker who was on that earlier version too with singer Aubrey Johnson and really comes through here on Oasis' instrumental version of the song when you least expect it. Whitaker ''plods'' the beat in an expert Christian McBride manner.
'Minorabilia' is where the blending between Stafford's trumpet and Tim Warfield's tenor sax in the head comes through nicely. It's a sunny tune. Whitaker's daughter Rockelle Fortin's vocal is far better on the eerie 'Interlude' than on the skippable despite Barth opener. The singer crops up four times on the album.
Readers with still functionally intact if occasionally vague memories may remember Fortin to better effect on 2014 Whitaker album When We Find Ourselves Alone. 'Sunday Afternoon' heads more into an Art Blakey space. Dana Hall on drums is not at all overbearing. Hear his touch best in the brief introduction to 'S'Cool Days'. The drums are often hidden in plain sight in the band sound but the groove is lively enough. Stafford is best on the 'Jazzdiddy Waltz' - UK readers titter ye not, not so much a Frankie Howerd moment in the titling more one for the Ken Dodd fans among you, no tears at all required down Knotty Ash way. Warfield here switches to soprano pretty effectively. Fortin appears again towards the end on 'To the Well' and the title track 'Oasis' but the main interest here is in the instrumentals. Stafford plays a blinder. Make 'Puppets' - no strings attached - your first port of call.
MORE READING AND LISTENING:
- Rodney Whitaker's When We Find Ourselves Alone - 2014
- Terell Stafford on the very fine homage to Lee Morgan, BrotherLee Love - 2015
- Stafford on a 2022 release by The Le Coq All-Stars
- And ground yourself, always a good idea to retain a sense of classic perspective, by listening to the Messengers' Ugetsu released in 1963 not long after The Beatles' first LP.
Rodney Whitaker, top: Photo: Oasis cover art detail