Saxophonist Steve Heckman
has been dishing up rock solid mainstream jazz in the quartet and quintet settings since 2003's For John
(World City Music), a tribute disc to the legendary saxophonist John Coltrane
. That debut and his two subsequent offerings, Live at Yoshi's
(World City Music, 2005) and Born to Be Blue
(Jazzed Media, 2013), held in common Matt Clark
in the piano chair. This time around, with Search For Peace
, Heckman once again employs Clark, with the keyboard man switching to Hammond B-3 organ.
The B-3 takes the group sound off from the mainstream route into the soulful, funky highway, beginning with Blue Mitchell
's bouncy calypso, "Fungii Mama." Heckman sounds like Sonny Rollins
, on one of the jazz icons mellower nights; the organ serves as a breeze through Caribbean palm fronds, and guitarist Howard Allen slips a tangy rum punch into the mix with his piquant single notes.
The group nods to the classic organ combo sound with guitarist Grant Green
's "Grantstand," moving the vibe up out of the tropics into the midwest urban milieu, and pianist McCoy Tyner
's "Search For Peace" finds Heckman in a contemplative mood, displaying a beautiful Ben Webster
- like tone. Thelonious Monk
's "Pannonica" features Heckman's reverent treatment of the melody riding on a cool organ cushion, and pianist Randy Weston
's "Hi-Fly," with Heckman on baritone sax, brings in a danceable, African groove.
A spirited take on Coltrane's "Spiral" closes the disc, a outstanding wrap-up from a saxophonist who respects the legends, and serves up his own vibrant take on their artistry.
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.