Josh Irving impressively soldiered on during a live celebration in July, 2007, of the release of A Common Thread at New York City's Smallsan event at which only two of the six musicians featured on the recording were present.
That he could successfully make the best of what would not seem optimal circumstances goes to his credit. This ability could help him as he approaches the rest of his career in a jazz scene whose arteries are clogged with fine musicians. But another reality should also aid him in his efforts to get heard more: he can play.
A former student of esteemed tenor George Garzone, Irving handles alto, tenor and soprano saxophones with a persistence and forcefulness that is focused and robust. His originals are likeable and sparked with sincerity. At times these display delicacy and eloquence and some resonate more strongly than others. Certainly they are well-executed, genuinely felt as played and earnest. Still, it remains to be seen just how important it is to be earnest. Or how these ten original compositions, one sharing credit with George Dullinhis able pianist who also excels on Fender Rhodeswill play out over time or attract listeners.
Standout numbers such as the title track, "A New York Myth, "Intersections, "Those We Love and "9 Goes Into 10 (But Not Always) sounded even better in the live venuelarger and less self-contained and entirely ready for primetime. Irving and Dullin's exertions felt more urgent and intense. The added presence of a superb guest tenor, Dan Pratt, also was a boost. Somehow the common thread of missing players from the CD didn't seem to ruin things as much as common wisdom would have suggested.
Absent were very capable twins who are fixtures on the Manhattan and Brooklyn scenes, trombonist Alan and drummer Mark Ferber. Also MIA were effective bassist Ike Sturm and a sixth no less significant party, Garzone, who guests on a couple of tracks. In the live show, bassist Danny Zanker and drummer Bryson Kern tried to do their best with music that seemed at moments to be unfamiliar.
Gratitude; 9 Goes Into 10 (But Not Always); A New York Myth; A Common Thread; Russ Sends His Regards; Intersections; Those We Love; Under the Influence; Never Good Enough; Crooked.
Josh Irving: alto, tenor and soprano saxophones; George Dullin: piano and Rhodes (1-9); Alan Ferber: trombone (1, 2, 4, 6-8; Mark Ferber: drums (1-4, 6-10)); Ike Sturm: bass (1-4, 6-10); George Garzone: tenor sax (3, 9).