There's a ton of splendid music coming out of Rochester, New York, probably because the first-rate Eastman School of Music is located there. Although few Noo Yawkers would admit it, The Big Apple doesn't have the state monopoly on stellar jazz, and here's another northern star to prove it. Mike Melito is a strong, straight-ahead drummer who's produced a classy, swinging CD with some of his local colleagues, all with impeccable credentials. It's a melodic session of fresh material, full of head-nodders and finger-poppers. "'Bout Time" opens with the friendly Freddie Hubbard tune, "Happy Times," then proceeds to provide more of them.
I really liked Grant Stewart's tenor playing, with its rich tone and blessed lack of squawking (listen to him on "My Ideal" for some ideal ballad playing). Paul Hofmann's piano is fluid, versatile, and reliably interesting, and bassist Paul Gill, who's worked with Turrentine and Golson, Hendricks and Harrell, has great time and intonation. Joe Magnarelli brings his fine flugelhorn to the closer, Cedar Walton's "Bolivia," recorded three years earlier and a highlight here. All told, a highly enjoyable collecftion of the real deal: no fuss, no phonies, no grandstanding from the leader at the expense of the group. Very nice stuff.
Happy Times, Nobody Else But Me, Minor Move, My Ideal, Jack Be Nimble,
The Way I Feel, Bella Carolina, The Closer, The Closer alternate take,
Michael Melito (drums), Paul Hofmann (piano), Paul Gill (bass), Grant
Stewart (tenor sax), Joe Magnarelli (flugelhorn)
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