Russ Nolan: Two Colors (2005)
"Two Colors" turns out to be blue in green as the rhythm section takes the Miles classic up-tempo to serve as a vehicle for Conly to be in control while Nolan wails a mean soprano. One can't help but be impressed by Barsh, who belies his youth and is equal partner to Nolan's wide range. Barsh effortlessly imposes a lovely Latin feel to "The One Smiling," bops through the unpredictable changes of "Hai Sensei," and flat out burns on "East Stroudsburg Stomp," the soprano blow-fest and tribute to Nolan mentor Dave Liebman.
Although somewhat of a newcomer to NYC, Nolan has obviously been around, and this debut shows his strong suite to be a facility in moving from soprano to tenor without sacrificing a step. This makes for an appealing session that holds your interest with its broad tonal palette. Nolan wisely chooses his tenor to take things home at a leisurely but melodic pace on "Light Traveler" while Barsh sets up a beautifully flowing backdrop. Nolan is a most able stylist/composer who, for his debut as a leader, has formed a wonderful partnership with pianist Sam Barsh. Here's hoping that there will be more to come from this terrific twosome.
Track Listing: 1. Pure Imagination; 2. The One Smiling; 3. Two Colors; 4. End of Innocence; 5. Spring is Here; 6. Hai Sensei; 7. Shadow; 8. East Stroudsburg Stomp; 9. Light Traveler.
Personnel: Russ Nolan-tenor and soprano saxophones; Sam Barsh-piano; Sean Conly-Bass; Vinnie Sperrazza- drums.
Record Label: Rhinoceruss Music