Chicago-based composer, educator and guitarist Peter Lerner has produced a clear-cut winner here. With his estimable band-mates behind him, the artist makes every note count in rather glistening fashion during these acutely arranged works that beg for repeated spins. Simply stated, Lerner’s eloquent and meticulously articulated phrasings amid the four-man horn section works wonders throughout.
Featuring little big-band type horns and a few organ-combo grooves, Lerner also stamps his signature on frothy Latin-jazz vamps, breezy jazz waltzes, vibrant bop and some delicately exercised passages. He also shines as an excellent foil for the rhythm section and soloists as a supreme accompanist. The guitarist also engages in brisk unison choruses with trumpeter Jim Rotondi, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander and the front-line in general, within various movements. However, the primary thrust of this outing is centered upon strong compositions, largely shaded with memorable hooks and elements of the blues.
On "The Mean Mr. Green," David Hazeltine’s organ lines generate a simmering bump and grind platform for the soloists, accelerated by Lerner’s animated voicings and the horns section’s brash choruses. In some respects, Lerner is a sound-sculptor within the jazz idiom but he raises the bar when required. Moreover, the band conveys a shrewd penchant for dynamics. It’s a beautifully choreographed jazz outing that was recorded at the legendary Van Gelder studios and is easily one of the top picks of 2007.