. The saxophonist cannot be accused of being in a hurry to get his name on a CD cover: a 15-year wait to release a debut is a lifetime in today's scene, where graduation can, all-too-often, take place after a young player's CD launch party. Inner Flights has been, however, worth the wait. Drazen and his quartet are tight, stylish, swinging players with real power and drive.
This is an album of hard bop, post bop, cool and more. Drazen's originals are combined with Ira Gershwin
, as is Jimmy Van Heusen's very well-known "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," in a set that has depth as well as immediacy.
Drazen does ballads beautifully, as evidenced by a seductive late-night "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" and the slightly mystical "Prayer for Brothers Gone." But he also excels at the up-tempo, hard-swinging, numbers like opener, "Mr Twilight," or the title track, which starts up with some chunky piano from Jon Davis
-ish, adding a little touch of humor to the piece before the rest of the players enter and the tune shifts into a more straight-ahead mode, centered on Drazen's bop-ish alto.
The versatility that Drazen demonstrates on Inner Flights makes him a hard man to categorize. Best not to try. This is a stylish recording from a fine quartet, and Drazen is a hugely enjoyable player with energy and swing in abundance.
Track Listing: Mr Twilight; Monkish; Prayer for Brothers Gone; Jazz Heaven; Inner Flights; Neeney's Waltz; This Is New; Kickin' Up Dirt; Polka Dots and Moonbeams.
Personnel: Benjamin Drazen: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Jon Davis: piano; Carlo De Rosa: bass; Eric McPherson: drums.