Anton Schwartz: Radiant Blue (2006)
Tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz picks his spots rather articulately here. Either as an accompanist or accelerator, the artist's penchant for making optimistic jazz looms in radiating fashion. Schwartz sports a resounding tone on this studio set, spiced up with grit and a soul-jazz drenched élan.
The quintet sustains interest from top to bottom, partly due to the saxophonist's strong compositions. Schwartz injects foot-stomping swing, New Orleans-style bump and grind, and expressive blues vamps into an irrefutably sparkling program. With his harmonically rich theme pieces, the saxophonist either floats like a butterfly atop buoyant rhythms or gets down and dirty in an array of animated flurries. Synergy abounds during the musicians' upbeat rendition of Jobim's classic "Wave, where Schwartz's ssensitive touch takes on vocal attributes.
Guitarist Peter Bernstein and pianist Taylor Eigsti enjoy numerous soloing opportunities within a variety of jazz-related flows, often embarking upon meticulous unison lines with the leader. They trade zestful fours in a full-throttle mindset, generating a panorama of concepts and dialogues in concise fashion. On "Hooking Up, Schwartz rides atop a blustery swing pulse where his husky tone and lyrically resplendent choruses complement Bernstein's ultra-cool single-note licks.
These folks are less concerned about splitting atoms or engaging in overwrought improvisational episodes. Radiant Blue is more about a highly engaging form seeped in masterful group interaction, flavored with tuneful motifs that impart a sustainable impression.
A top ten pick for 2006.
Track Listing: Phantom Dance; Alligator Strut; Wave; Slightly Off Course; Life & Times; Marcel Marceau; Blues For Now; Groundsurge; Hooking Up; Sneaking Suspicion.
Personnel: Anton Schwartz: tenor saxophone; Peter Bernstein: guitar; Taylor Eigsti: piano; John Shifflett: bass; Tim Bulkley: drums.