Celebrating the 70th/25th anniversaries of Blue Note Records (70 years since its founding and 25 years since its re-launch), The Blue Note 7 makes its debut with a resounding impact. Pianist Bill Charlap, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, alto saxophonist Steve Wilson, guitarist Peter Bernstein, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash perform eight songs from the classic Blue Note '50 bop repertoire, endowing each with a fresh approach and new arrangements by each band member, two done by pianist Renee Rosnes.
The group is an all-star band with a big sound, each member a virtuoso player and most established leaders in their own right. But they have come together to achieve a balanced and effective collaboration. Throughout, Charlap is inventive and sometimes playful, Payton bright and often haunting (as on McCoy Tyner's "Search For Peace"), Coltrane lean and expressive, Wilson fluid on alto and flute ("Little B's Poem"), Bernstein smooth and silky (featured here on Duke Pearson's "Idle Moments"), Washington solid and melodic and Nash spry and conversational.
It must have been difficult selecting only eight songs from the vast catalogue of this seminal label. In an interview, Charlap mentions that the aim was "to honor the label and its key players, whittling it down to eight of our favorites." He also went on to say, "Each arranger had the opportunity to choose their pieces according to what spoke to them musically." No mention has been made of a sequel to this offering, but it seems a perfect band to create an anthology series.
Track Listing: Mosaic; Inner Urge; Search For Peace: Little B's Poem; Criss Cross; Dolphin Dance; Idle Moments, The Outlaw.
Personnel: Nicholas Payton: trumpet; Steve Wilson: alto saxophone/flute; Ravi Coltrane: tenor saxophone; Peter Bernstein: guitar; Bill Charlap: piano; Peter Washington: bass; Lewis Nash: drums.