With top notch soloists, a savvy rhythm section, and compelling compositions, what's not to like about Jerome Harris' Rendezvous? Incidentally, with the same instrumentation as Dave Holland's quintet, and the very same Steve Nelson on vibes, one has to wonder what band came first. In addition to Nelson, Rendezvous boasts Marty Ehrlich on alto sax and Arthur Baron on trombone, while session leader Harris on bass and Billy Drummond on drums provide the formidable foundation to this lively quintet.
Six of the seven compositions are Harris,' with a lone nod to Duke Ellington on a marvelous version of "The Mooche." Harris is a self-effacing and subtle bassist who, in addition to being a significant composer, is an excellent band leader. Marty Ehrlich fans will be pleased to know that he's in top form here, and Steve Nelson has rarely sounded better, dramatic and intense. The additional treat is trombonist Arthur Baron, who more than holds his own with these two masters. His earthy, voice-like playing pulls together the frontline, helping bring out the more emotional side of the band. Baron's muted trombone work on "The Mooche" is worthy of any Ellington band, and is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
The tracks range from six to eleven minutes, allowing the musicians plenty of room to stretch out. The interaction between Ehrlich and Baron is notable for its intelligence and energy. These two seem to be enjoying the competition. Listening to Harris' interaction with Nelson is like pulling back a curtain to this quintet and observing the inner workings; in many ways this quintet revolves around this relationship. Harris' presence allows the drummer the freedom to prod and challenge the Ehrlich/Baron/Nelson frontline. Drummond is aggressive and effective, few percussionists are his peers in the world of jazz.
In short, Rendezvous is a consistently engaging session, displaying marvelous musicianship throughout, and the sound quality is excellent.
Decision Point; Sway Low; The Mooche; Cool Pursuit; Followthrough; Only Then; Hand By Hand.
Jerome Harris: acoustic bass; Marty Ehrlich: alto saxophone; Arthur Baron: trombone; Steve Nelson: vibraphone; Billy Drummond, drums.
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