Dave Sterner Quintet: What's What (2007)
Sterner's originals are particularly strong and happily make up most of the program. Together with tenor man Chris Burge, our two front-line partners speak as one and easily negotiate some slippery passages, such as the slurs and bends of the melody line to "The Jive Song. Roger Friedman utilizes a Fender Rhodes to lay down vintage grooves on several cuts; Kurt Felgemaker's electric bass anchors the bottom end. Sterner's alto is at its most melodic on the ebullient "Waltz for Pop, while his fiery statement on "What Was gives the strongest indication of his ties to players such as Sanborn and Crawford.
By contrast with his original material, Sterner and company's renditions of the four standards here are far less interesting. In fact, one could argue that it might have been beneficial to forego them altogether in favor of extending some of the solos on a few of the shorter numbers. Regardless, What's What is a strong statement that stands apart from many of the self-produced releases that pass as mainstream jazz these days.
Track Listing: The Jive Song; Slick Willy; A Lazy Day; What Was; Waltz for Pop; The Lucky Ones; That's All; JS 4 Fun; Don't Get Around Much Anymore; S.P. Jones; But Not for Me; Split Kick.
Personnel: Dave Sterner: alto sax; Chris Burge: tenor sax; Roger Friedman: piano and Rhodes; Ray Porrello: drums; Kurt Felgelmaker: bass; Beau Lisy: percussion.
Record Label: Self Produced