Steve Heckman is a meat 'n potatoes saxophonist whose previous recording, Born to be Blue
(Jazzed Media, 2013) was a trip through the heart of the jazz mainstream, circa 1960 (with better sonics). Heckman follows Born to be Blue
with a right turn into hard bop atop of an organ-guitar quartet.
For the present recording, Heckman employs his same band as Born to be Blue
with Matt Clark
switching to the Hammond B-3. The result is a low-calorie funk-fest sans the grease. Crisp and clean, Search for Peace
swings with a relaxed but intent momentum and contains not a few surprises. Guitarist Howard Alden is not the first guitarist that would come to mind for this repertoire, but he has been a Heckman collaborator for some time and makes the best of this established relationship. Blue Mitchell
's "Fungii Mama" provides a good jumping-off point for the band to warm up in a tropically environ similar to Sonny Rollins
' "St. Thomas." Drummer Arkia Tana is tight and precise, directing the rhythm of the piece and bassist Marcus Shelby's instrument is captured full-throated and true. Grant Green
's "Grantstand" provides a showcase of Alden, who takes full advantage of the spare, but swinging accompaniment. Heckman takes McCoy Tyner
's "Search for Peace" and turns it into an understate ballad that is well-structured but still has ample room to move for the soloists. Heckman finds the "soft" in hard bop with his light-as-air treatment of Sonny Clark
's "Melody in C." Alden again shines with a chord break before he begins his soloing proper. John Coltrane
's "Spiral" is given a full workout by Heckman who often cites Coltrane as an influence, but who has never fallen completely under the spell of that tenor titan. Search for Peace
is both a proper response to the previous Born to be Blue
and a sensible evolution from that point. Heckman is a durable saxophonist with plenty of chops to spare. He always has his ear on the melody.
Fungii Mama; Grantstand; Search for Peace; Pannonica; Hi-Fly; Hangin' at
Slug's; Melody for C; Autumn in New York; Spiral.
Steve Heckman: tenor and baritone saxophones; Howard Alden: guitar; Matt
Clark: Hammond B-3 organ; Marcus Shelby: bass; Akira Tana: drums.