This album could just as easily have been titled; "Live at the Cellar," since this is the Vancouver club where it all started for Mr. Perry, and where he has fast forwarded to some great quintet work that is straight up with obvious audience approval.
P.J. heralds the start of some great listening with the Horace Silver tune; "St. Vitus' Dance." He is joined by the fluidic playing of Mr. Bobby Shew. Ross Taggart brings a steady left hand and bright solo along with a comforting rhythm section by Mrs. Swainson and LaBarbera. Shew pens the next tune entitled "Counting Down," and opens with playful monkish influences. Perry takes his solo and turns the song inside out as you would expect of a guy with over forty years worth of chops.
"Melody for Thelma" contains a moving Latin rhythm combined with nice comping by Taggart. Shew punches out some tasteful melodies, and Perry makes his notes sound like birds flying off the page. My pick of the album is the Walter Gross song "Tenderly." Perry's voicings are sweetly sustained with artistic pauses. His alto seems to sing in vocalese. Right behind him is Taggart who opens the door to some piano work that is reminiscent of Bill Evans' romantic sketches.
"Love Letters" is standard jazz club material by two mature masters of the craft. "Tempus Fugit" Bud Powell has been called the Charlie Parker of the piano. In this rendition of his creation the group is not just boppin' with Bud, but rather completely reformulating some of his concepts.
This contemplative Ellington ballad, "Warm Valley," gets a chestnut "roasting" by five fires of improvisational music. A cozy interpretation. "Social Call" is a jaunty walk up to the door with a cheerful intonation by the horn department. "Spiral Stairway" is a swinging close that is accented by one of the best rhythm sections on either side of the border.