The new collection by JSJBF member Andy Rothstein, “Truth Against The World,” drops on April 1st, but I have been fortunate enough to receive an advance copy to review for you here. Andy’s third release, and the latest since 2010’s much acclaimed “Wit of the Staircase,” has him again teaming up with horn ace and producer Steve Jankowski. Steve’s Jankland Studio is known for some of the finest music production in the area, and with this disc, he again demonstrates his ability to get the best out of this group of musicians. Tom Cottone and Andrea Valentini share the drum duties, while Tony Senatore holds down the bass. Ken Gioffre and Tom Timko join Steve to make a formidable horn section, with Demetrios Pappas handling the keyboards. Audrey Martells provides vocals on two tracks. This is a seasoned group of professionals, some who tour with Steve in the Nile Rodgers and Chic band and have played with other acts, too numerous to mention here.
The 11 original recordings begin with the instrumental “Perfect Storm” which employs an opening horn riff that grabs you for a ride through sonic peaks and valleys, highlighted by Andy’s guitar. His playing goes from joining in on the opening riff to stretching out with stunning effect, and is aided by D Pappas’ soaring synthesizer that closes out the song. “SPDM” is a mid-tempo number which spotlights the sax playing of long-time JSJBF member Tom Timko, along with some great horn charts by Steve and tasteful playing by Andy.
Things slow down with “Blues” on which drummer Andrea and bassist Tony keep in check with their solid rhythm while Andy lays down some inspired guitar and Ken’s plaintive sax solo nails it. The opening horn notes of “The Witness” sound like something out of a horror movie, but it quickly kicks into a salsa style groove with Audrey Martells’ vocals soaring over the band. Steve’s muted trumpet solo adds a tasteful intermezzo to this complex arrangement. “Mystic Mud” sparkles with fresh horn charts pushed by the counterpoint of Andy’s fret work. “Strum” is a lush instrumental with Andy’s tasteful guitar melding seamlessly with Tom’s sax soloing. “Step Out” again displays the beauty of the interaction between guitar and horns with Steve’s trumpet/trombone playing and Ken’s saxophones working their magic. “Hell Mary” spotlights Audrey’s sultry vocals with Andy’s guitar riffs lifted from Jimi Hendrix “Foxy Lady” and “Hey Joe,” but the soloing is all his own and demonstrates the band’s range, stretching the song in many interesting directions. “Funk 7” starts off with that chunky beat which is the bed for some superb soloing by Andy, Steve, and Tom Timko on their respective instruments. “Cab 804 (SAMBA)” is a Samba beat which is punctuated by some nice solos by Steve on Flugelhorn and Ken on Flute. The set closes with the title track “Truth Against The World,” another strong instrumental written by Andy. It again showcases Andy’s flawless playing and D Pappas’ keyboards. Andy and his bandmates have written and played on all of this terrific new music while Steve and Jankland Studio have created a top-notch production.
I won’t tell you what or who the title phrase relates to. You will have to buy the CD or come to the CD Release Party on April 10th at 6 p.m. at the Women’s Club of Red Bank. I will give you a hint. The artwork on the CD cover which was conceived and created by former JSJBF board member and Andy’s wife, Alissa, will give you a clue.