Seattle-based tenor saxophonist, Hadley Caliman took a thirty year hiatus from recording before he released Gratitude
(Origin Records, 2008). It was an exceptional mainstream set that displayed Caliman's John Coltrane
, Dexter Gordon
, and Joe Henderson
influences, in hints and brief whispers, and reintroduced the saxophonist's own distinctive, full-of-life voicings.
With Straight Ahead
, he steps out further into that territory, with a group of Origin Records all-stars on board to give a modern tinge to a tried-and-true format.
The disc's Straight Ahead
title, and a lineup of piano/bass/drums rhythm team with a saxophone and trumpet out front recalls the sixties Blue Note Records sound, and that's accurate here. But there's a modernization of sorts, with Eric Verlinde's quirky/pretty, ebullient piano playing, joined in the rhythm section by bassist Phil Sparks, an Origin Records stalwart who stays deep in the pocket beside drummer Matt Jorgensen
, who lays down grooves and weaves loose textures.
"Cigar Eddie," a Caliman original, opens the set with a rollicking piano intro followed by on some clean two horn harmony. Trumpeter Thomas Marriott
joins the leader in the front line, blowing with a clean, crisp tone before a Caliman solo blossoms out of the sonic landscape like a surlybut beautifulwild flower, prickly thorns on its stem.
The Coltrane influence is heard on a pair of Trane vehicles, Billy Strayhorn
's lovely "Lush Life" and Weisman/Garrett/Lane's "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes." The former is an intimate, late night piano/sax conversation, the latter a sparkling, up-tempo ensemble romp, with Verlinde rolling into a brief ride on "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top."
Trumpeter Marriott contributes "Cathlemet," an upbeat tune with a fluid vibe. The trumpeter's solo gleams over a shimmering harmony, in front of Sparks' muscular bass. Lee Morgan
's "Totem Pole" has the Blue Note Records signature written all over it, in a no frills, straight-up script, with Caliman sounding especially energetic and inspired.
After three decades away from the recording studio, saxophonist Hadley Caliman has his second straight CD hit in two years with Straight Ahead