Another modern mainstream sextet plays standards. Not exactly. It’s true that Greg Osby, Stefon Harris, Mark Shim and Jason Moran are four of the most exciting younger cats to come along in years. And it’s true that they’re playing classic tunes from the modern mainstream vocabulary. But this front line is made up of two saxophones, giving the ensemble a unique sound quite apart from a standard lineup. What’s more, their treatment of these familiar melodies is nothing at all like standard treatment. As evidenced by their individual albums of the past two years, each of these four artists has something new to say.
Besides a few originals, New Directions includes classic compositions by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Sam Rivers, Hank Mobley, Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, and Duke Pearson. The absence of a trumpeter on "The Sidewinder" cries out for a return to the CD collection. Old favorites like that one will be around forever, and the sound of Lee Morgan’s horn will always be close at hand. However, with this session it’s clear that Osby, Harris, Shim and Moran aren’t trying to reproduce the past. Instead, this sextet pushes everything further ahead, stretching the limits in hard bop fashion and recreating familiar standards with a fresh approach. Each of the four has already established himself as a dynamic leader with something new to say. Here, they say it together. Osby and Shim function as front line horns while Harris and Moran color and shade. Harris has the added role of functioning on occasion as a third horn; both he and Moran stretch out when soloing. Highly recommended, New Directions offers fresh, acoustic straight-ahead jazz with a unique delivery.
Personnel: Greg Osby- alto saxophone; Mark Shim- tenor saxophone; Stefon Harris- vibraphone; Jason Moran- piano; Tarus Mateen- bass; Nasheet Waits- drums.