Economics being what they are, it’s not very common for a jazz player to keep a regular band a continuing entity. So when an "established/working" band in a happening thing, it’s worth noting and to give ‘em a collective tip o’ the hat -even more so when it’s a extremely fine band. Trumpeter/composer Tom Harrell has this quintet, see, and all these fellows are hot stuff, especially tenor whiz Jimmy Greene. Greene plays with a bittersweet dark, Joe Henderson-esque tone in a refreshingly measured manner - whereas many young sax maniacs play more notes that you know what to do with and show every technique/trick they know, he keeps some in tantalizing reserve. The rest of the band maintains a light but assertive sense of swing throughout.
The tunes are nearly all originals, a program of easygoing, ennui-free, cliché-less, lyrical hard bop a la mid-60s Horace Silver and Freddie Hubbard. Harrell’s playing, too, is remarkably well thought-out - he’s his own man of course, neither soft nor brassy but somewhere in between, but for the sake of reference he’s more like Kenny Dorham and Woody Shaw than Miles, Maynard or Hubbard. Pianist Xavier Davis reminds me of that hardboppin' fella Ronnie Matthews, in that he plays real pretty and sparingly, making every note count. Tom Harrell fans and bebop fanatics will no doubt love this (and well they should), but me, I’d’ve liked to have heard this group push the envelope a bit more.