Lipton's improvisational approach echoes the swiftness of 1960s-era Wayne Shorter ("Flight, "104 ) and the gracefulness of Dexter Gordon ("March 1st, "Waltz for Maya ). The disc's ten tracks, all composed by Lipton, traverse a diverse array of tempos and grooves, with an underlying propensity to swing. Lipton's compositional skills shine bright on the opening track "Shtuyot, the ballad "March 1st and "The Hodge Positionary, a frenzied romp with angular proportions.
With solo space spread out evenly amongst the quintet, the disc serves as a showcase for all involved. Crocker, who seems to have fallen under the Freddie Hubbard spell, has a crisp tone and a go-for-broke approach to soloing. Chodos is a subtle pianist with tremendous intuition; a patient risk-taker who isn't afraid to develop his ideas. Hanley creates quite a low-end rumble, providing solid support and meaty, albeit brief bass solos ("Waltz for Maya, "104 ). Weinrib demonstrates sensitivity for the varying complexities of modern jazz drumming. His Tony Williams-style, off-time prodding on "The Hodge Positionary teeters wonderfully on the edge of collapse without losing a sense of momentum.
A gifted saxophonist and composer, Lipton has the potential to develop into an original voice on the jazz scene. First Steps is an engaging introduction, musically genuine and well-conceived.
Track Listing: Shtuyot; March 1st; Interlude 1 (Hot Tune); The Hodge Positionary; Waltz for Maya; Interlude 2 (The Theme); Flight; Interlude 3 (The Theme); 104; Blues.
Personnel: Zack Lipton: tenor saxophone; Theo Crocker: trumpet; Tobin Chodos: piano; Jeff Hanley: bass; Craig Weinrib: drums.
Record Label: Self Produced
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