The twenty-one tunes that comprise the two CDs in this collection are all originals by Reed Kotler, arranged by Bobby Shew. Kotler’s music is inventive and demonstrates evidence of a variety of influences of different jazz styles and different jazz musicians. Kotler’s music seemingly provides the listener with musical snapshots of different musical experiences and musicians he has encountered during his own musical life. In addition to beautiful ballads most of the pieces are bop influenced straight ahead swingers or Latin laced numbers, with the variety ranging from a rollicking gospelish "Blues for Kenny B." to the beautiful melody of "I Couldn’t Have Loved You More," to pieces inspired by Bill Evans, Bob Cooper, Clifford Brown, and Bobby Shew. In addition to exceptional solo work by Shew and Foster, not to be overlooked is the very fine playing and soloing of pianist Bill Cunliffe, bassist Darek "Oles" Oleszkiewicz, and Paul Kreibich on drums.
Bobby Shew is a consummate trumpet artist. With his experience of playing lead trumpet in big bands, significant studio work, and his expertise in the art of improvisation, he is truly one who has done much to maintain high standards of musicianship in the jazz world. Gary Foster is also a top flight professional with great chops that afford him familiarity in a many different musical settings. The talents of these two horn men and the men in the rhythm section coupled with the creative writing of Reed Kotler, make this CD an excellent and aesthetically uplifting listening experience. Bobby Shew, Gary Foster and Friends Play the Music of Reed Kotler is very highly recommended to any listener who enjoys first rate performances of straight ahead swinging jazz.