Jeb Patton has a working association, as does bassist David Wong, with the remaining Heath brothers and drummer Albert "Tootie" and saxophonist Jimmy both make guest appearances on the pianist's latest album. Drummer Pete Van Nostrand rounds out this efficient piano trio on the Heath-less tunes and, while it is clear that Patton is definitely in charge, the band swings with unitary precision. Part of the new breed of pianist that really came of age in the '90s, Patton is conservatory trained, as comfortable playing jazz as Chopin.
He immediately uses his prodigious technique to good advantage as crisp speedy lines set a cheery mood on CD opener "Billy," not in a vacant sense but in that great-to-be-alive spring morning kind of feeling, a sense that permeates the entire session. Witness "My Ideal" transfigured into a frisky jaunt, the clean melodic lines of "The Music Goes On," a lightly swinging interpretation of the standard "If Ever I would Leave You" and a pleasantly funky tribute to Patton's mentor "Sir Roland" (Hanna) that simmers courtesy of "Tootie" Heath's drums.
Midsession, Jimmy Heath's soprano sax brings a beautifully pensive respite to the otherwise up-tempo feel with a tastefully smoky version of Howard Arlen's "Last Night When We Were Young" before his own swinger, "Cloak and Dagger," has his brother picking the pace right back up. A Spanish tinge is evident in the trio's interpretation of "Estate," segueing into Patton and Jimmy Heath leading a most melodically interesting walk down the pianist's "Street Song." A stylish rendition of Cole Porter's "Dream Dancing" closes out this enjoyable session on a high note. To paraphrase the tagline from the MAXJAZZ piano series of which it is a part, New Strides is at the center of melody and harmony.
Track Listing: Billy; My Ideal; The Music Goes On; Sir Roland; If Ever I Would Leave
You; Last Night When We Were Young; Cloak and Dagger; Estate; Street
Song; Dream Dancing.
Personnel: Jeb Patton: piano; David Wong: bass; Pete Van Nostrand: drums; Albert
"Tootie" Heath: drums (4, 7, 8); Jimmy Heath: soprano saxophone (6).