Tenor saxophonist Ken Fowser and vibraphonist Behn Gillece have been performing together since the 1990s as teenagers growing up outside of Philadelphia. Now residents of New York City, the two host a weekly jam session at Smalls Jazz Club where they've had the opportunity to perform with an A-list of jazz performers. Little Echo, the follow up to their critically acclaimed 2009 debut Full View (Posi-Tone), puts a modern twist on classic hard bop sounds with a swinging quintet performing all original material.
As front-line soloists, Fowser and Gillece play with conviction, phrasing with a mature elegance that puts the development of floating motifs ahead of showy exhibitionism. Fowser's classic tenor tone, at times reminiscent of hard bop icon Hank Mobley stands out on the medium-tempo "Resolutions" and the boogaloo funk of his own composition "Ninety Five." Gillece gets into a strong Bobby Hutcherson vibe on the lush ballad "The Dog Days" and the hard-hitting "Vigilance." Other stand-out tracks from the disc, the bulk of which were composed by Gillece, include the funky title track and "Sap," with its winding lines and inspired solos.
The rhythm section of pianist Rick Germanson, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Quincy Davis swing tirelessly and provide the necessary push to elevate the music to inspired heights. Germanson's fiery, bop-flavored piano solos on the title track and "One Step at a Time" are some of the best on the disc.
Little Echo is a set of no-nonsense straight ahead jazz, utilizing strong compositional techniques with a grounded improvisational dialect.
Resolutions; Ninety Five; Sap; The Dog Days; Vigilance; Little Echo; One Step At A Time;
You; Another View.
Ken Fowser: tenor saxophone; Behn Gillece: vibraphone; Rick Germanson: piano; Ugonna
Okegwo: bass; Quincy Davis: drums.