The Nightcrawlers Down in the Bottom

Throughout Down in the Bottom, Vancouver, BC-based quintet the Nightcrawlers pay homage to the soul-jazz sounds of the '60s. On six of the 11 tracks, the group are bolstered by "the big band sound": seven reed- and brass-men who help maintain interest on this otherwise blowing-heavy record. Organist Chris Gestrin is a featured soloist throughout, unafraid to show his love for Jack McDuff ("Esperanto") and Lonnie Smith ("Love Bowl"). In a further nod to the organ trio, guitarist Dave Sikula lays down Grant Green-inspired solos on "Down in the Bottom" and "Neckbones." The musicians never stray far from swinging mid-tempo grooves, relying heavily on drummer Jesse Cahill's propulsive, well-developed timekeeping. With most of the record consisting of soul-jazz standards, it's hard not to see this release as a derivative work. However, the strong arrangements and adherence to tradition make this record a pleasing listen for fans of the sweaty, smoky heyday of jazz. (Cellar Live)