In what seems like an endless sea of young jazz stalwarts vying for attention, New York-based saxophonist Dave Noland stands out with a sound brimming with warmth and exuberance. On Nomad, Noland’s debut as a leader, the Texas native shines on a stellar, straight-ahead set with the help of trumpeter Nathan Eklund, pianist Jason Teborek, bassists Pete McCullough and Frank Hauch, and drummer Tim Horner.
Noland weaves his tenor and soprano saxophone effortlessly through his own swinging compositions and unique arrangements of the standards "The Way You Look Tonight," "Skylark" and "Eronel," the seldom performed Thelonius Monk gem. The up-tempo bopper "Pistol Pete" proves the perfect vehicle for Noland’s tough-tenor sound, complimented by Ekland’s soaring trumpet. The pensive waltz, "Sweet Pea," a feature for the nimble bass playing of Hauch, is layered with rich harmonies and a lyrical melody, predominant characteristics of Noland’s compositional style. The bouncy "So Long, See You Tomorrow," a blues with an extended turnaround, finds Teborek stretching out on the piano, setting up the big-band inspired theme and swinging solos from Noland and Eklund.
Nomad is an impressive outing from a group of like-minded, inspired torch-bearers; paying homage to the past while pushing forward with vivacity and originality. Noland’s skills as a performer and writer should guarantee him a bright future in the overcrowded, often dimly lit, world of progressive jazz.