An alumnus of Miles Davis’ 1970s and 1980s bands, drummer Al Foster evolved into one of the more heralded modern jazz drummers, spanning the past 30 years. Here, Foster returns to the forefront as the man in charge for a session that was captured at New York City’s fabled, Village Vanguard venue.
Foster offers his frontline ample soloing space via these tight, yet sometimes airy pieces that duly typify the power of jazz within a live setting. To that end, the drummer is an accelerator and colorist throughout. Dynamics are in abundance amid variable shifts in strategy, including the band’s spirited take on Wayne Shorter’s classic "ESP," featuring pianist Kevin Hays’ animated phrasings.
Saxophonist Eli DeGibri turns up the heat while also acting as a strong foil for Hays. But, Foster is clearly the traffic director while also dropping some bombs and taking a few solo spots, that rhythmically adhere to the primary groove-component of a respective theme. Ultimately, the quartet swings hard to complement passages where the soloists veer off into knotty time signatures, while Foster often punches out the accents. At the end of the set, Foster thanks the audience while stating that it’s all about love, peace and jazz, which are words that nicely parlay the underlying tone of this superfine 2008 release.