Too long taken for granted, tenor saxophonist Rich Perry often serves as the faceless sideman, a past contributor to the music of Tom Harrell, Chet Baker, Jack McDuff, Billy Hart, and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. For very close to a decade now, he's also been the lead voice of pianist Harold Danko's quartet, a group that likewise deserves more critical and popular acclaim than it has garnered. If it wasn't for Perry's select bunch of SteepleChase sides we'd barely hear anything from him, and yet we've really never heard much of those due to those small label distribution woes. That is until now.
Actually recorded in the fall of 1997, Perry's So In Love is part of a recent set of SteepleChase releases making their way to the United States for the first time. Before getting too much into details, let it be said that the saxophonist has got himself a surefire winner with this one and the story behind its gestation is worth telling. Basically, Perry was taking a break from the Danko quartet and decided to put together a new grouping for his upcoming session. He's done this for past records, but this ensemble was unique in being a bit more contemporary in stature. Pianist Renee Rosnes and drummer Billy Drummond (who also happens to be Rosnes' husband), along with bassist Peter Washington, combine to create a formidable rhythm section that locks in tight with Perry and holds on.
The opening "Eiderdown" contains many of the prime elements that reoccur throughout the record, including Rosnes' liquid touch and abounding imagination, not to mention Drummond's interactive discourse with each soloist. Perry is a melodic and methodical soloist who seems to be more influenced by players like Warne Marsh or Hank Mobley than John Coltrane or Sonny Rollins. It's not characteristic of his style to engage in overblowing or other histrionics, yet Drummond and Rosnes seem to bring out his more boisterous side here, particularly on the title track.
There's a serene quality to some of the slower pieces that finds Rich and Rosnes in their element. A nice twist on "Moon and Sand" is provided through the use of a bossa beat and Ron Carter's "Little Waltz" gets a heartfelt treatment apropos to its original intent. It just goes to show what can happen when you break out of the routine to hang out with some new friends.
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Personnel: Rich Perry- tenor saxophone, Renee Rosnes- piano, Peter Washington- bass, Billy Drummond- drums