For his third album for the MHR Record label, upstate NY young drummer Michael Melito leads a trio increased to a quartet on most tracks by the tenor sax of Grant Stewart and for one track, the flugelhorn of Joe Magnarelli. Being a leader as a drummer can be a frustrating undertaking. Typically in a drum small combo setting it's the piano that carries the load, and that's the case here with the talented Paul Hofmann. What Melito brings to the table are a couple of good originals plus the sense not to let his drums overwhelm his fellow players. He does get in good shots on drum breaks throughout the course session such as on "Happy Times". But they are neither obtrusive nor maniacal. He does a fine job tending the timing, letting his compatriots ride atop his pace setting. The nine tune play list is an eclectic one. Not only does it include the aforementioned originals, but classic and jazz standards as well, including "Minor Move" an engaging piece by the undervalued tenor saxophonist Tina Brooks. This session can be characterized as cerebral, with little shouting by any of the instrumentalists. Even the up tempo numbers such as veteran bassist Butch Warren's "The Way I Feel" has a sophisticated, elegant way about it with Stewart's tenor playing, but not bellowing, complex figures on his horn as he trades ideas with the pianist. Paul Gill's bass lays down engrossing bass lines on this cut. Pure Bop is revisited with Hofmann's "Jack, Be Nimble", recalling the Prestige outings of the 1950's.
This album is not going to set the world on fire and I doubt that was its intention. But what it does is offer more than fifty minutes of excellent bop directed jazz by some very talented young players. Visit the label's web site at www.mhrrecords.com to find more about them.
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