It may appear to be just a mere sitting on a couch for trumpeter Mike Cottone, and maybe that’s what it’s meant to convey: something laid back, easy, “down home”. Well, if playing damn well over some incredibly well arranged jazz is “down home”, then I think going home is something all of us should have in mind when it comes to creating and listening to music, and maybe that’s why he calls this Just Remember (self-released). For longtime fans of jazz, it goes back to a time when bebop and hard bop was a call to arms. For others, it’s just a way of pointing the finger at jazz, as it should be played.
6 of the 10 tracks are Cottone originals, so when you’re hearing songs like “I’m Sure”, “Sloppin”, and “Slow Down”, you’re hearing someone who not wants to honor jazz, but wants to play and embellish in it. Along with his band (which includes Jared Schonig and producer Ulysses Owens Jr. trading duties on drums, Paul Sikivie on bass, Kris Bowers on piano, and Jeremy Viner on saxophone), Cottone shows the kind of skill that comes from someone who is in love with the music, with playing, and with the instrument, or in this case instruments since he also plays the Flugelhorn. It sounds like freedom, and I was going to pinpoint certain eras in 20th century jazz that it reminded me of, but I think “freedom” is apt regardless of the era. The harder songs are an excursion, while the ballads display the musicianship of Cottone and his band beautifully.
Just Remember is not too showcase-y or lavish, it’s a perfect balance that helps make this album stand out from the multitude of jazz albums that come out on a regular basis. This is one that will sound good in five to ten years as it does today.