New York City-based alto saxophonist Peter DiCarlo
makes a lot of winning moves on his debut album, Onward
, and a couple that seem more puzzling than perceptive. More about them later. First, it should be noted that DiCarlo is a virtuosic player with a burnished sound and enough improvisational ammunition in his arsenal to guide him safely through any encounter, no matter how unforeseen or perilous. He is also a splendid writer whose five original compositions here serve to enhance the album's allure. Among the best of them are the fiery title track and the even more heated "Hint of Mint," dedicated to the Adderley brothers and featuring DiCarlo sitting in for the peerless Cannonball, trumpeter Scott Wendholt
for Cannon's talented and often undervalued younger brother, Nat.
DiCarlo also wrote the waltz-like "Feast in the Fuar," the light-hearted blues "Stepping Off" and the rhythmically persuasive "Imposter," modeled on the harmony and style of Joe Henderson
's "Recorda Me." Completing the session are drummer Chris Parker
's warm-hearted ballad, "Arrival," the Mack Gordon/Harry Warren standard "There Will Never Be Another You," and (first puzzler) the run-of-the-mill pop hit, "Feel Like Makin' Love." DiCarlo leads a trio on only one number, "Stepping Off" (nice brush work by Parker, solid bass support from Tom DiCarlo
). On the others, he is abetted by a superb team of collaborators including Wendholt, tenor Rich Perry
, percussionist Keisel Jiminez Leyva and (second puzzler) baritone saxophonist Claire Daly
Besides mirroring Nat Adderley
, Wendholt is heard on the title track, "Feast in the Fuar" and "Makin' Love," Perry on "The Imposter," "Arrival," "Makin' Love" and "Onward." Leyva's deft percussion enlivens "Feast," "The Imposter," "Arrival" and "Another You," the second track on which DiCarlo's is the only horn (and another highlight, thanks to astute solos by DiCarlo and pianist Jim Ridl
and stalwart percussion from Leyva). Time now to address those puzzlers, one of which concerns Daly. The question is, why would anyone invite one of the world's foremost baritone saxophonists on board and assign her no solo space? As Yul Brynner said in The King and I
, "'tis a puzzlement." No less so is the inclusion, after nearly forty-eight minutes of high-quality jazz, of "Feel Like Makin' Love." Perhaps DiCarlo simply likes the sound of Jerson Trinidad
's voice (well-suited to the tune's blandness) or owed a favor to arranger Erdogan Turani. Whatever the case, seasoned jazz enthusiasts may "feel like tunin' out" after a few bars of that one. Setting aside those enigmatic missteps, an impressive coming-out party by an articulate and talented saxophonist and friends.
Onward; Feast in the Fuar; Stepping Off; The Imposter; Arrival; Hint of Mint; There Will
Never Be Another You; Feel Like Makin’ Love.