Drummer and bandleader Pete Zimmer hasn't lost a step in getting his product to the people. Arriving in New York around the time of 9/11, he understandably found it difficult to get a record deal. So he created his own label, Tippin', on which Judgment is Zimmer's third release. He essentially keeps the same personnel from his last album (Burnin' Live At The Jazz Standard, Tippin' 2005), with the addition of his former employer, saxophonist George Garzone.
On paper, this combo is the same one that has provided quality bebop on two prior albums in what can only be interpreted as an homage to groups like Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers and the Horace Silver Quintet. George Garzone remains the wild card, inasmuch as he is a free blower. Thus it is quite a revelation to announce that Garzone provides several positive turning points on this album.
Garzone plays on six of the nine compositions (he wrote four of these tunes). He does get the opportunity to take the music out in a limited fashion on "8 A.M. Wednesday Spirit," in a duet with Zimmer's drums, but also builds to a point at which he invokes the spirit of John Coltrane live at the Vanguard circa 1961. Also, for another duet with Zimmer on the standard "Bye Bye Blackbird," Garzone again plays in a post-Coltrane style. In contrast, his solo work on the opening "The Mingus That I Knew" and especially on the title tune is lyrical and appropriately surging. On the latter, Garzone outduels Joel Frahm in back-to-back solos. On his ballad "To My Papa," Garzone shows how to deliver a superior ballad treatment.
The opening track, "The Mingus That I Knew," features the shifting rhythm of "Peggy's Blue Skylight" and, what else, a bass solo by David Wong, who emulates Mingus' idiosyncratic playing. Trumpeter Michael Rodriguez presents the melody line on Toru Dodo's "Dot Dot" and then launches into a beautifully stated solo. Zimmer has a few solo opportunities here, and on his previous albums, he didn't take space for himself. But on Judgment, in addition to the two drum/sax duets with Garzone, Pete Zimmer steps forward and rightly so announces his presence.
The Mingus That I Knew; Down or Up; To My Papa; 8 A.M. Wednesday Spirit; Judgment; Dot Dot; Bye Bye Blackbird; Tutti Italiani; Cut Off.
George Garzone: tenor saxophone; Michael Rodriguez: trumpet; Joel Frahm: tenor saxophone; Toru Dodo: piano; John Sullivan: bass; David Wong: bass;
Pete Zimmer: drums.
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