A quick look at his bio, and a quick listen to his accomplished new release on Double-Time Records, makes clear that 37-year-old Tim Armacost is no run-of-the-mill tenor saxophonist. A well-travelled, broadly educated New Yorker (via L.A., Washington, Tokyo, Amsterdam and India), Armacost draws heavily on the Coltrane and Rollins legacies, but has enough fresh musical ideas and sheer instrumental muscle to avoid falling into the trap of mere hero worship.
Armacost begins the proceedings here with a lush, leisurely stroll through "Body and Soul," topped off with an extended, unaccompanied solo that recalls both Coleman Hawkins' classic tone and Coltrane's modernism. The album's centerpiece is an audacious and thrilling take on Coltrane's "Crescent" that adroitly straddles the line between the twin virtues of discipline and freedom. Armacost's own compositions range from the beautiful title ballad (originally written for a friend's wedding) to the full-tilt, Latin-tinged hard bop of the closing number, "Special Delivery."
Armacost and his stellar rhythm section - pianist Bruce Barth, bassist Ray Drummond and the great drummer Billy Hart - were captured in the midst of a European tour, and they're all at the top of their games and very much in sync. This is aggressive, daring modern jazz played at a very high level by all involved.
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