From western Pennsylvania comes a quartet of players who play with loose precision as they work their way through a set of familiar and original material. The result is what one might call sophisticated bop. There's plenty of improvising, expanding on the bop figures that were laid by the inventors of the style in the late 1940's with little agitation. Led by Tom Strohman on a variety of saxophones, the clarinet and flute and by the steady pianism of Steve Rudolph all buttressed by the strong foundation constructed by Steve Varner's bass, an hour of well conceived, cleanly executed arrangements are presented.
The album's kick off tune reveals the debt to that premiere jazz style as the group offers a scintillating run through of Rudolph's "T. C.'s" Tune. Old Devil Moon" is given a fresh up tempo, modern reading by the group. But like bop players of yore, this group is capable of more than playing fast and turning chords inside out. They record an out of the ordinary arrangement of Bobby Troup's "The Meaning of the Blues". Here, Rudolph is the inside man with his introspective piano, with Goodwin the outside man, knocking off rim shots and other percussive announcements. The arbitrator is Strohman's flighty flute leading the way in a lovely proclamation of a tune that has been done by Julie London to Miles Davis. The Strohman/Rudolph version need not take a back seat to any version. The album's coda is a fitting, lilting "Scherzo for Summertime" and like that time of year has a calm, relaxed way about it. This piece comes from Strohman's 14 year son, Greg.
In Our Prime should be welcomed by those who get their listening pleasures in small group jazz. This album indeed is prime stuff. Visit Steve at www.steverudolph. com.
Personnel: Tom Strohman - Soprano, Alto & Tenor Sax/Flute/Clarinet; Steve Rudolph - Piano/Korg 01W; Steve Varner - Acoustic & Electric Bass; Bill Goodwin - Drums/Percussion