Richard Sussman: Live At Sweet Rhythm (2010)
As the years went by, the music began resonating with a lot of people, Sussman included, and the pianist eventually bought the rights to his recording. After some calendar juggling, he was able to nail down everybody from the original project, with the exception of saxophonist Larry Schneider, and they celebrated the album's twenty-fifth anniversary with two nights at New York's Sweet Rhythm. Now, seven years later, this music has made its way to the marketplace as Live At Sweet Rhythm, and the music was well worth the wait.
A few songs from the original album, a couple of new tunes and a pair of standards make up the program, and Sussman generously shares the spotlight with everybody involved. The standards belong to the horn players, with trumpeter Tom Harrell at the center of "What's New," and saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi delivering a stellar take, capped off with a terrific cadenza, on "Soultrane." "Mary's Song," one of the two newer Sussman originals, has an uplifting and sunny theme that's instantly appealing, with drummer Jeff Williams and bassist Mike Richmond providing some slick supporting grooves.
What's so striking about this rhythm section is its ability to bring a certain amount of intensity to the music without the high volume levels that often, needlessly, go with it. "Waiting" and "Tiahuanaco" are prime examples of this quality, and both contain plenty of solo space. The album's closing tracks are its most adventurous: "Lady Of The Lake" begins with a rubato piano introductionfull of mystery, intrigue and impressionistic flourishesbefore things finally settle in; "Free Fall" is almost episodic in nature, and offers a lot to like. Williams' loose drum soloing, Harrell's following explorations, Bergonzi's playing over uncertain footing, and Sussman's flurry of notes all add to the magic. Here's hoping three more decades don't have to pass for these musicians to reconvene.
Track Listing: Waiting; Mary's Song; Soultrane; Tiahuanaco; What's New; Lady Of The Lake; Free Fall.
Personnel: Richard Sussman: piano; Tom Harrell: trumpet; Jerry Bergonzi: tenor saxophone; Mike Richmond: bass; Jeff Williams: drums.
Record Label: Origin Records