P>With each album it issues, Germany's Nagel Heyer label further solidifies in the minds of jazz fans what is becoming known as the "Nagel Heyer" sound. The label is becoming a citadel of mainstream jazz played by some of the most accomplished players on today's scene, irrespective of domicile. Here the list is impressive. Joining bassist Frank Tate are Harry Allen with his big tenor sound, veteran piano icon, Dave McKenna, one of the more facile guitarists around, Howard Alden and the inestimable Butch Miles holding everyone together, being more subdued than usual as he works in a small group context. With a lineup like this, exciting thoroughly enjoyable jazz is virtually guaranteed and that's just what the audience was treated to.
Tate leads these players at a live performance in Belfast. If there is any doubt about Tate's melodic way with bass, it is dispelled with his performance on this set, especially on such tunes as "The Touch of Your Lips" where he and Howard Alden exchange interesting ideas. But all the tracks capture the essence of jazz, melody, improvising, imaginative solos and strong ensemble work. All members of the group take their turn front and center expressing their musical thoughts on each item on the play list. Harry Allen's tenor is prominent throughout and is masterful on such cuts as "On the Alamo". One of the more clever arrangements is Jimmy Giuffre's famous "Four Brothers" with McKenna, Alden and Tate playing the parts of Herbie Stewart, Al Cohn and Serge Chalof as Allen plays Allen, sounding a bit like Zoot Sims. Everyone steps asides and let McKenna have "Chinatown, My Chinatown" all to himself with his magic left hand. Good stuff. And there's over an hour of good stuff on this fine release. Highly recommended.
Personnel: Frank Tate - Bass; Harry Allen - Tenor Sax; Howard Alden - Guitar; Dave McKenna - Piano; Butch Miles - Drums