Jazz fans don't usually start with trumpeter Brian Lynch when they name the young lions who came of age in the 80s--even though at 42 he's only five years older than Wynton Marsalis, and can play rings around most of his contemporaries. Talk to musicians, though, and Lynch's secure place in the modern jazz mainstream becomes obvious: he's earned it with both his muscular technique and the way he solos from the ground up, building chorus after chorus on rock-solid motivic foundations. Spheres of Influence (Sharp Nine), arguably his best recording, arrived more than 15 months ago, and the album's variety spotlights the pillars that support Lynch's horn. Quartet tracks highlighting those lean, clean solos confirm his membership in the club that includes Kenny Dorham, Lee Morgan, and Woody Shaw; hard-bopping quintet sides reference both Lynch's tenure in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and his present gig with Phil Woods's quintet. Several tunes feature lacerating Latin rhythms, and a couple more burn with a five-piece brass section--reflecting the trumpeter's mid-90s work in Eddie Palmieri's octet. Lynch's bubbling, inventive lines almost always pause or jump at just the right moment, and like good barbecue sauce, his spicy tone has a hint of sugar. He sounds terrific on disc and in concert, but he's famously hungry for the spontaneity of after-hours jam sessions--which rarely end before Lynch has packed up his horn. This weekend he'll have it both ways--in a formal gig with after-hours informality--when he becomes the latest guest soloist to lend his allure to Lush Life. Lynch will perform with the house band, the John Campbell Trio, which sounds great all on its own and makes visitors sound even better. Friday and Saturday, 9:30 PM, Lush Life, 226 E. Ontario; 312-649-5874. NEIL TESSER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by John Abbott.