57 minutes of tremendously high quality music recorded by masters in their field.
Colin Buttimer 2009-02-06
It's a pretty safe bet there'll be few readers of this review who were around when Blue Note, jazz's most famous label, released its first record. That's because Blue Note is 70 years old. The Blue Note 7 owe their existence to this anniversary and are touring 51 North American cities to celebrate. The septet make for the proverbial all-star cast: Nicholas Payton and Ravi Coltrane, on trumpet and tenor respectively, need no introduction, while Steve Wilson on alto, guitarist Peter Bernstein, pianist Bill Charlap, Peter Washington on bass and Lewis Nash can all offer up serious contemporary pedigree. A little disappointingly, Mosaic doesn't continue the theme of sevens, instead comprising eight songs. They are, however, all classics from a catalogue that's a feast of riches.
The group launch into the album's title track, Mosaic by Cedar Walton, with alacrity. Crisp, honed and driven, each contribution is brilliantly performed. Joe Henderson's Inner Urge from the 1964 album of the same name takes off on Peter Washington's rich-toned bass, quickly shadowed and elaborated upon by Bill Charlap and ter the genius of artists such as Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor. The group's version of Thelonious Monk's Criss Cross is as left-field as it gets. Herbie Hancock's Dolphin Dance is a pleasure though, as is finale The Outlaw.
Mosaic's recording quality might have brought a smile to the late Rudy Van Gelder's face, but there's something missing, a subtle but nagging absence of grain. Mosaic is 57 minutes of tremendously high quality music recorded by masters in their field, but look elsewhere for real adventure.