2 Cents is the recording debut for valued sideman trumpeter/flugelhornist/composer Douglas Olsen who leads changing configurations on a combination of straight-ahead and Latin jazz, mostly with original compositions. Although the New England-based musician has been playing for over two decades, this is his first statement as a leader. He has played in smaller combos and large orchestras, of which these perhaps have the most name recognition – Smithsonian Masterworks Jazz Orchestra, The Berklee College of Music Faculty Big Band, and Big Apple Circus. Additionally, he leads Latin Bash and the Doug Olsen Quintet.
Olsen employs mostly local players including Dino Govoni on tenor and alto (4 tracks), trombonist Angel Subero (3 tracks), and pianist Tim Ray (all). Other accompanists include Yaure Muniz (trumpet on 2 tracks), Tucker Antell (tenor on “Miles Rumba”)), Dave Zinno (bass on all), Mark Walker (drums on all), and Ernesto Diaz (congas on three tracks). As Olsen outlines in his liners there are two distinct styles – music in the Hard-bop/Post-bop tradition performed by a jazz quartet on “Tailwind” and “Una Para Ti,” both originals and jazz quintet with Govoni’s tenor on the title track, “Rat Race,” “Critical Mass,” and “Passage,” again all Olsen originals. The second style is in the Latin Jazz/Afro-Cuban tradition where the others not mentioned in the previous sentence join in, making the unit a septet or octet for Dizzy Gillespie’s “Algo Bueno,” “Miles Rumba,” and the McGhee/Navarro “Boperation.”
Olsen begins in fiery form on the opening “Tailwind,” moves to a more relaxed tempo on the title track as Govoni and Zinno step forward, and leads the ensemble on a blistering take of Gillespie’s “Algo Bueno” (also known as Woody n’ You) with Diaz on congas and Olsen trading sizzling lines with trombonist Subero. The heated mood continues with the boppish, frenetically paced “Rat Race” as Olsen and Govoni on alto blaze away in combustible exchanges.
“Miles Rumba” is the only tune featuring the powerful tenorist Tucker Antell and its Latin rhythms provide plenty of space for Walker and Diaz. “Critical Mass” is relatively mellow hard bop piece rendered by the quintet while the well-known “Boperation” is done slower than usual, showcasing both Olsen and Muniz. “Una Para Ti” is a warm ballad written by and featuring the leader on flugelhorn while the closing original “Passage” has the quintet going out in spirited fashion with especially energetic turns from Govoni on tenor and the leader.
This is for fans of those late ‘50s early ‘60s recordings from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Lee Morgan, early Freddie Hubbard, and the like. Olsen lights a fire that burns for over 50 minutes. Hold on tight.
- Jim Hynes