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Reedman Adam Kolker has garnered three Grammy nominations for his work alongside percussionist Ray Barretto. Now, as the leader on Sultanic Verses, he teams up again with Barretto, whose churning rhythms aid and abet pianist Bruce Barth, bassist John Herbert, and drummer Billy Hart.
Four tunes are "Verses," shuffled in with the Kolker originals and a couple of time- polished classics: Monk's "Epistrophy" and the American Songbook gem, "All or Nothing at All." The Verses are duets, featuring Kolker's sweet-toned soprano weaving around Barretto's fluid grooves. "All or Nothing at All" showcases Kolker's airy yet still substantial tenor tone, along with Barth's crisp and sublime keyboard accompaniment. On the Monk tune Barth eschews Thelonious's angularity and sits in with a straight up precision, and "Blues" has that relaxed, smooth-flowing after-hours feel. "Remembrance," Kolker's dedication to his mother, closes the with a beautiful, delicate melody on tenor that Barth accentuates with reverent light touch.