In contrast with the contemporaneous release Bounce, In the Pocket shows a different side of the saxonphonist, trumpeter and composer Miles Donahue. Donahue has assembled a bigger combo with even more firepower on this session, including tenor player Jerry Bergonzi, pianist Fred Hersch, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Jamey Haddad. They are joined by guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel on four tracks and bassist Dan Greenspan on two compositions.
On many of the tracks that feature a two-tenor front line, and without any user-friendly advice as to who is soloing first (Donahue or Bergonzi), I am working under the assumption that Bergonzi follows the leader in that regard. Indeed, listening to the head of several of these tracks, one is reminded of the famous Gene Ammons/Sonny Stitt battles beginning with the aptly named opener, "In the Pocket." On "Kelnecka," Donahue's solo reaches noticeable soulful playing while Bergonzi takes us back to Earth again. On the following "4 D's and a G," percussionist Richard Monzon adds some nice Latin touches.
The pace is pretty frantic until "Emma's Song," which includes some pleasant Fred Hersch support and solo. Hersch is also rewarded with a brief closing coda on a two minute reprise of "Emma's Song." Guest Kurt Rosenwinkel is in supreme mainstream form on his appearances on "In The Pocket," "McEljim," "Lights Out" and "Waitin' for the Ice Cream Man" with nary an envelope-pushing note. Guitarist John Paul also appears on "4 D's and a G." Donahue plays trumpet on "A Sometime Thing."
Track Listing: In The Pocket; Kelneka; McEljim; 4 D's and a G; Emma's Song; Lights Out; All the Way; A
Sometime Thing; Waitin' for the Ice Cream Man; In The Pocket; Emma's Song-Reprise.
Personnel: Miles Donahue: alto and tenor saxophone, trumpet and keyboards; Jamey Haddad: drums;
Fred Hersch: piano; Jay Anderson: bass; Jerry Bergonzi: tenor saxophone; Ricardo Monzon:
percussion; Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitar (1,3,6,9); John Paul: guitar (4); Dan Greenspan: bass