Over the years, Criss Cross can be proud of its track record when it comes to fostering new talent and launching new artists. Some of the names who got their start while on the label and who now enjoy active careers include Eric Alexander, Benny Green, Peter Leitch, Kenny Garrett, John Swana, and Jim Rotondi. Now add to that list the name of Jimmy Greene. This graduate of Jackie McLean’s program at the Hartt School and current member of Horace Silver’s quintet actually has the double advantage of having two debut recordings currently on the new release docket, one for RCA and this Criss Cross title that was actually recorded in 1997.
Introducing Jimmy Greene has all the earmarks to suggest that Greene is a new voice that demands our attention, yet I’m sure that he’d freely admit he’s made strides since this set. His bold tone and broad range leads to an almost liquid-like conception that comes through with deceptive ease. He’s not a bad writer to boot and his arrangements here are workmanlike, if not downright catchy. “Con Alma” gets a sprightly treatment not unlike a classic version from Wes Montgomery’s Bumpin’. The standard “I Love You” also gets a new facade via its rich three-horn voicings, although one would have hoped to hear both Swana and Davis utilized more throughout. Greene’s one ballad statement, “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most,” is a real beauty, complete with extended cadenza at the close.
As for the rest of Greene’s cohorts, Swana and Davis are already well- known, while pianist Aaron Goldberg and bassist Darrell Hall are two up-and-comers. Rounding out the group, Eric McPherson is a fellow Hartt grad that has been tearing things up as of late. Keep an eye and ear out for Greene and these guys, we’re sure to hear a lot from them in the future.
No Doubt, Con Alma, Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most, Nelba
Jimmy Greene- tenor sax, John Swana- trumpet & flugelhorn, Steve Davis- trombone, Aaron Goldberg- piano, Darrell Hall- bass, Eric McPherson- drums