How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Bennie Wallace is irrefutably one of the finest tenor saxophonists alive. Although his distinguishable talents sometimes lack the widespread recognition he justifiably deserves. With this live release, the tenorist performs with a superior rhythm section. They pep up Gershwin, and Arlen standards, while the leader contributes three pieces to this vibrantly enacted set. Wallace’s fluent, angular lines and acute utilization of all registers is subsidized by his broad, corpulent tone. Whether deconstructing or retooling a familiar ballad or adhering to the mainstream side of matters, the saxophonist sustains interest throughout. Bassist Peter Washington and drummer Herlin Riley provide sympathetic support while also supplying the appropriate inclusion of dynamics. In addition, pianist George Cables comps and responds to Wallace’s often-spontaneous excursions in benevolent fashion. Nonetheless, this artful presentation provides a snapshot of conventional jazz at its very finest. Wallace is a superb technician who possesses the goods. But it’s not all about virtuosity as the band’s cohesiveness and symmetry shines forth in a rather prolific way. Highly recommended.