Things have been hopping lately for pianist extraordinaire David Hazeltine. Aside from numerous gigs as a sideman (check him out with Louis Hayes, if you can) and time spent with the sextet One For All, Hazeltine has picked up the pace of his own efforts as a leader. Currently, he has available a tribute to Horace Silver on the Japanese Venus label, a second edition of performances from the “Classic Trio” as heard on Sharp Nine, and the quicksilver set at hand for the standby Criss Cross label.
It should come as no surprise that Blues Quarters ranks among the finest albums in Hazeltine’s growing catalog. Just look at the cast involved- tenor phenom Eric Alexander, bassist Dwayne Burno, and drummer Joe Farnsworth. Supporting the belief that musical familiarity breeds excellence in exchange, the camaraderie among Hazeltine, Alexander, and Farnsworth has been proven countless times before, both live and on record. Three originals by Dave tap the harmonically fertile ground that also imbues his characteristic arrangements of such standards as “Milestones,” “Cry Me a River,” and “Spring is Here.”
In terms of artistic ripeness, each member of this group speaks so expressively that you can’t help but stay engaged. But this is where words start to fail. Call it artistic merit, stylistic individuality, or whatever else you’d like. These guys just cook. Sure, if you’re looking for something beyond the mainstream tradition, you won’t find it here. But hey, not everyone can be Roscoe Mitchell and so Dave and the boys get the “thumbs up” from me!
Track Listing: Naccara, Milestones, A Touch of Green, Spring Is Here, Blues Quarters, Cry Me A River, Cheryl, What Are You Doing?
Personnel: Eric Alexander (tenor sax), David Hazeltine (piano), Dwayne Burno (bass), Joe Farnsworth (drums)