It’s a shame that we see so little press for those few working bands currently in existence. It’s bad enough that money and schedules make it difficult to keep any kind of firm line-up in place for very long, making such business enterprises almost unviable these days. Little beyond their developing catalog of SteepleChase sides seems to suggest that the Harold Danko Quintet will be taking the world by storm any time soon, yet the group happens to be of the first rank when it comes to the kind of sympathetic and empathetic ensembles that were almost the norm back in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Together for most of the ‘90s, the Danko Quartet’s fifth set for SteepleChase, Stable Mates, gathers a selection of the type of tunes many developing jazz artists have used to cut their teeth on over the years. The Miles Davis connection is a strong one too, with “Solar” and “Seven Steps to Heaven” on tap, as well as classics from former Davis sidemen Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Victor Feldman, and Jimmy Heath.
The sign of a group certain in its abilities and identity, there’s a sense of relaxed confidence that permeates. As a result, the previously mentioned “Seven Steps to Heaven,” which in lesser hands can merely be a lessen in pure speed, bounces at a medium tempo with the support of bassist Scott Colley’s well-placed “steps”. Saxophonist Rich Perry distinguishes himself once again with a liquid tone and seamless technique, the perfect match to Danko’s refined lyricism. Stable mates, band mates, whatever the terminology, the Harold Danko Quartet proves again that it’s all in the chemistry.
Con Alma, Quietude, Windows, Gingerbread Boy, Dolphin Dance, Solar, Seven Steps To Heaven, Nostalgia in Times Square, Line For Lyons, Stable mates (74:02)
Harold Danko- piano, Rich Perry- tenor saxophone, Scott Colley- bass, Jeff Hirshfield- drums
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