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Once Through is a tight, artistically insightful New England combo led by reedman Dan Moretti. A Berklee prof and former sideman with Aretha Franklin, James Moody, Dave Liebman and Tony Bennett, Moretti puts his jazz/pop pedigree to good use on this collection of superbly interpreted selections.
Moretti is in fine company here, the empathy between players resonating deeply on each tune. Guitarist Bruce Bartlett appears only on four of the nine tracks. His blues-inflected grooves add a powerful drive to those selections, though the other players groove equally well on the trio tracks. The opening track is a commanding reevaluation of a Bill Withers standard. The intuitive interplay between Bartlett and Moretti reminds me of that between Kenny Burrell and Stanley Turrentine in the Jimmy Smith quartet, though bassist Marty Ballou’s drones and walking add more of a Jimmy Garrison flair. Track #8 was in fact composed by the late, great Coltrane bassist. The fleet Latin touches and subtle dynamics of drummer Marty Richards update that piece, and several others, most tastefully. Richards is a huge asset throughout this set, driving the whole affair along with restraint and a masterful conception.
Alto flute in hand, Moretti deftly translates track #2 (a certifiable jazz chestnut) into the post-bop vocabulary of Roland Kirk and Pharoah Sanders. Not only do the band members have a strong appreciation for the post-bop school of thought, they skillfully show how its techniques and forms can still be applied to create jazz of striking originality. A fun departure from that style is track #4, the only original in the set. Moretti’s tribute to the spirit of soulful saxman Earl Bostic is funked up to the third degree. Two Monk tunes are also in the mix. #7 is taken pretty straight, but with a song as fundamentally hell-bent for leather as this, one can’t find much that should be tampered with. #5 begins as a duo for mournful tenor and preachin’ bass, Richards entering later to quietly underscore the love poetry. The remaining selections, drawn from the repertoires of Milt Jackson, Hank Mobley and Miles, are handled with equivalent freshness.
Once Through is a joy to behold, highly recommended for fans of top quality post-bop that avoids the dangerous territory of free improv. These cats deliver all the goods with change to spare.
Track Listing: Ain't No Sunshine; Tenderly; Bags' Groove; Bostic; Ruby My Dear; Tenor Conclave; Rhythm-A-Ning; Ascendant; Walkin'.
Personnel: Dan Moretti, saxophones; Bruce Bartlett, guitar; Marty Ballou, bass; Marty Richards, drums.