JazzTimes (p.69) - "'Five by Three' and 'Discovery' are both luminous waltz numbers....'Better Than One' is a crackling soul-jazz workout..."
Personnel: Randy Halberstadt (piano); Mark Taylor (alto saxophone); Thomas Marriott (trumpet, flugelhorn); Mark Ivester (drums).
Audio Mixer: Reed Ruddy.
Recording information: Avast Studios, Seattle, WA (01/30/2010-01/31/2010).
Though the Origin label has a special knack for finding excellent bands led by drummers, they have also had considerable success discovering groups led by talented musicians who play other instruments. Pianist Randy Halberstadt is an excellent example of this. On his second album for the label, Halberstadt combines with a quartet of additional notables from the Seattle jazz scene for a surprisingly wide-ranging set. The album opens in a strong post-bop realm, with horns and piano following one another in "Rigenia," a piece that seems to borrow just enough from "Pent-Up House" to get a bit of a groove building. "On Green Dolphin Street" gives Thomas Marriott a nice stage to showcase his brass, and "Unspoken" lets bassist Jeff Johnson work out a particularly introspective solo, with Halberstadt staying in a quiet but just-present form of accompaniment. Miles Davis' "Solar" gets a workout that lets Halberstadt show off some excellent skill with some high-speed arpeggios as well as more sensitive solos. "Discovery" brings the tone back to a more classic Northwestern one, and "Woofer" adds a deep emphasis on the low end of the sound for an intriguing, beat-heavy form of jazz. The album manages to be genuinely enjoyable to listen to, as well as being musically clever. It's not an easy combination to pull off, but Halberstadt makes it sound simple. ~ Adam Greenberg