Philadelphia native Tom Cohen, while not as well-known as the previously mentioned fellows, has assembled an extremely artistic collection of music that presents his talents as a drummer and leader in a flattering light. Cohen also keeps adept company as heard by the work of bassist Peter Herbert and pianist Peter Madsen. The latter, in particular, creates dazzling waves of energy that engulf the listener. A breakneck jaunt through "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise" barely even hints at the melody until the conclusion, replaced by one devastating chorus after another from Madsen. Clearly, his presence on the date was an inspiration to all involved. Even Chris Potter, who sits in on a few cuts and has a tendency to be too cool and calculated at times, wallops and wails to great effect.
Like a well-paced set in a club, a recording should have an ebb and flow that catches and keeps the listener's attention and changes moods throughout. Without being too esoteric, Cohen manages to keep things interesting and Madsen is again an asset in terms of the five originals he contributes. "Chagall," a dainty waltz, has almost an ECM feel to it, with Potter waxing rhapsodic on soprano. "The Cat" and "Truth is Stranger Than Fiction" offer advanced hard bop with numerous harmonic twists and turns, while "Desert Flower" and "Not Even a Hat" rank with some of Wayne Shorter's finest ballads.
A success for everyone involved, but particularly Madsen and Cohen, Diggin' In, Digging Out is a very engaging listen that could end up being one of the major sleepers of the year. And that's saying quite a lot.
Track Listing: Solar, Softly As in a Morning Sunrise, Anthropology, Chagall, The Cat, Desert Flower, Well You Needn't, Not Even a Hat, Truth is Stranger Than Fiction (66:13)
Personnel: Tom Cohen- drums, Chris Potter- tenor & soprano saxophones, Peter Madsen- piano, Peter Herbert- bass
Record Label: Double-Time Jazz
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