It took two years to get this disc from the studio to the stores, but it's well worth the wait. Saxophonist Tim Armacost has been involved in a number of impressive projects since he came on the scene a decade ago, but nothing any better than this quartet, featuring pianist Bruce Barth, bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Billy Hart.
The quartet was formed in 1998, and has toured the US, Europe and Japan, keeping up an amazing performance pace as a unit considering the demand each member is in for other projects. The result of all that road work, though, is a group absolutely in command when the opportunity to occupy a studio arrives. The seven tracks here, four by Armacost alongside three standards, represent strait ahead jazz at its finest.
Armacost switches between tenor and soprano, and is equally adept on either horn. If I had to pick, it would probably be the soprano performances, like the opening number, Afro Pentameter
, and the title track, but only because it's so rare that we get to hear someone so fully in command of the tempermental instrument. Armacost's intonation and control of the soprano saxophone may be paralleled somewhere, but is certainly unsurpassed.
That takes nothing away from his skill with the tenor, though. There's simply no element of the album that fails to satisfy.