JazzTimes (6/02, p.118) - "...HArd-charging, full-featured, straightahead jazz sprinkled with enough contemplatve ballads to balance the set..."
Personnel: Hollis Gentry III (soprano & tenor saxophones); Chris Conner (upright bass violin); Bob Weller (piano); Tim McMahon (drums).
Recorded at Proxy Studios, San Diego, California. Includes liner notes by Phil Upchurch and Michael O'Neill.
The debut album of Hollis Gentry III has a musical program of classic and jazz standards. But don't be misled. This is not an album where Gentry and cohorts recite melody lines with a few nods to improvisation. Quite the contrary, this is a session featuring startling and imaginative extemporization right from the opening note. Gentry is one of the founders of Fattbuger, the group that's been recording smooth jazz for more than 15 years. But since his association with Merrimack, he's been moving away from that jazz form apparently looking for the greater artistic and technical challenges found in progressive jazz and hard bop. With his command over the tenor and soprano saxophones, it's well that he should. Gentry's sax playing has a different texture than most. His tenor can often sound like a baritone, as on "I Want to Talk About You." He also favors the use of the tremolo technique to emphasize a measure or chord, such as on "Up Jumped Spring." A disciple of Charlie Parker and especially John Coltrane in more than just name, he comes closer to the latter's "sheets of sound" on "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes," which is also an opportunity for bass violin virtuoso Chris Conner. The opening track, "On Green Dolphin Street," recalls the seminal recordings of the Coltrane quartet of McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, and Jimmy Garrison. Bob Weller's piano rides on top of rhythmic figures created by drums and bass, although his touch is somewhat lighter than Tyner's. But these four are no one's clone by any means. They have plenty to say on their own as they skillfully dissect each item on the play list, demanding attention from jazz fan and artist alike. Breathtaking and recommended. ~ Dave Nathan