Mike Melito wants you to know he loves Blue Note albums from the sixties. He shows this love on his latest CD The Next Step. A hard swinging quintet plays some fine originals along with classics from the fake book.
Melito himself is a cooking drummer who loves to engage his soloists without getting in their way, giving them the rhythmic freedom to explore their time at bat. The horn section of trumpeter Joe Magnarelli and tenor saxist Grant Stewart profits most from his generosity. Pianist Dino Losito joins Melito and bassist Neal Miner in being unobtrusively swinging.
The quintet shows the most respect to the standards, playing "Don’t Blame Me" with understated elegance at a medium tempo that will tap your toe for you, with no effort on your part.
Originals like Magnarelli’s "Bella Carolina" get more of an experimental treatment, with Melito’s powerful tom-tom intro belying a buoyant bossa beat.
"I Want More" sounds pretty much as Dexter Gordon intended it to sound back in the early sixties, and that’s a good thing. Stewart pays homage to the tenor master with a pleasing romp. Magnarelli steps in to equal him with a great look at the changes. Once again the rhythm section bubbles just under the surface.
"You Don’t Know What Love Is" sounds like the way Clifford Brown and Max Roach’s band with Sonny Rollins would’ve played it. Technically not Blue Note, but who cares.
Mike Melito loves Blue Note, but he gets you to love his music, too. Here's looking forward to his next CD.