Pianist Keith Javors, who is now an assistant professor of Jazz Studies at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, recorded this set of his original compositions more than three years ago in Marquette, Michigan, with “deep gratitude and respect to [his] musical heroes: Benny Green, Mulgrew Miller, Herbie Hancock and the late Kenny Kirkland.” Javors, who is clearly a talented musician, has absorbed many of their more adaptable notions and added a few wrinkles of his own to produce a colorful studio session of straight-ahead jazz that leaps and dances with boldness and finesse.
Javors is ably reinforced by bassist Lou Smoltz and drummer Alex Brooks and escorted on all but two selections by alto saxophonist Dane Bays whose nimble phrasings call to mind such other contemporary hard-boppers as Antonio Hart, Kenny Garrett, Vincent Herring and Bobby Watson. Javors, Smoltz and Brooks make it a trio on the fast-paced “Mulgrew Said” and toe-tapping “I’m Not Judas.”
As is true of most albums made up entirely of original songs, there’s nothing here that one is likely to hum afterward. On the other hand, Javors’ compositions are invariably well-framed with enough depth and variation to hold one’s interest, as are his robust improvisations. An admirable studio date by an unknown but accomplished foursome, marred only by its penurious 45:16 playing time.