The problem with so much of the present-day post bop mainstream is that its very qualities seem lessened by the amount of times it's caught on record, especially when the work of so many of its practitioners seem to amount to little more than the sum total of their influences.
This release is a different matter, however. It has about it the same indefinable qualities as some of the later dates that Jesse Davis made for Concord, and the band that guitarist Daisuke Abe has put together is not only exceptionally cohesive, but it also has something to say, both individually and collectively.
In the way that the playing of standards might once have offered some insight into a musician's craft, a programme of originals might offer some insight into a musician's deeper musical thinking. This is the case with On My Way Back Home, despite the fact that Abe's work at this point in his career lacks the depth of originality that only time can bring. That said, the likes of "Go!" and "Last Call" have intrinsic qualities that are not lacking in personality. They have a certain quality that rewards repeated listening.
As a front line Abe and tenor saxophonist Walter Smith gel well. Neither of them owes any overt stylistic allegiance, although there is sometimes the air of a more assertive Jim Hall in Abe's lines. The rhythm section of Aaron Parks (piano), Matt Brewer (bass), and Rodney Green (drums) clearly knows this idiom inside out, and it's a tribute to these players that they do a whole lot more than simply go through the motions.
It could take weeks if not months trying to define what separates the exceptional from the run-of-the-mill when it comes to this area of the music on record, but whatever it is, this date has the quality in abundance.
Personnel: Walter Smith: tenor sax; Daisuke Abe: guitar; Aaron Parks: piano; Matt Brewer: bass;
Rodney Green: drums; Gretchen Parlato: vocals (4,6).