This aptly titled urban joy is rich, straight-ahead, but somewhat mysterious at the same time. Drummer Jerry Steinhilber and his comrades deliver some powerful music on this CD.
It’s accurate that the first track is called "Blue Note Maki," as it is my favorite phrase for something destined to be a classic. Listening to these guys brings forth an aural image of Englewood Cliffs, Alfred Lion and Rudy Van Gelder. The track is solid from first second to the last. There are many masters that come to mind while digging the artistry. Seems the standard has been met. Good!
Some of the heaviest tracks like "Bad Billy Boy," "The Mingus That I Knew," and "For All Children," are of a taste level of days gone by. However, the majority are original compositions, so there’s no reference of playing out a good thing. The good thing is that real jazz, old or new, does not "play out." This group is well aware of that fact. Garzone brings polished and emotional interpretations on a majority of the cuts. It is the kind of gut-level honesty that’s missing in much of today’s music. Larry Kohut lends a strong support "bass" to the mix and keeps the sound very rich.
"Tutti Italiani" is interesting, as the title could lead one to believe the track is fast and furious. Not quite; it’s one of the most sophisticated and melodic tracks on the CD. Garzone plays as with an artist’s love of his own work but shares it with the listener. Trompeter’s solo follows and therefore extends that same love. If you want to lose the stress and go with the flow, this is it. "This is Always" is equally as enchanting with its tender, peaceful magic. The closing piece, "Hey, Open Up" is both inquiring and inviting. It’s got zip and a no-nonsense groove that the whole ensemble pitches in full-force.
The solos are strong and each player compliments the other while brilliantly showcasing individual strength. They’re at the top of the game, which is what Chicago and New York expect, musically speaking and otherwise.
The facts: You like serious jazz without compromise? Get your ears ready.