New York-based drummer Pete Zimmer backs a hard-bopping quintet on his debut disc, Common Man ; and you can't help thinking "retro" with this soundtenor saxophone and trumpet in front of a bass/drums/piano rhythm team. But it's "retro" in the best possible sense of the word, an energetic celebration of the established sound by a very talented group of musicians. The set owes the obvious debt to Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Roy Hayes, Lee Morgan and countless Blue Note recording sessions.
Zimmer and crew give the bop sound a sharp-edged freshness, with seven Zimmer originals and one tune each by tenor sax man Joel Frahm ("A Whole New You") and pianist Rick Germanson ("Daytona"), and the standard "Darn That Dream" rendered in the piano trio format, with Toru Dodo on the keys.
Zimmer's "Search" opens the disc on the up-tempo with some clean Horace Silver-like harmonies leading into a fluidly creative trumpet solo by Michael Rodriquez. The soloing all aroundby pianists Toru Dodo and Rick Germanson, saxophonist Frahm and trumpeter Rodriquez, and occasionally by bassist John Sullivan and Zimmeralways has a distinctive and personal touch, with Frahm catching this ear the most, with a round and robust tone that brings Bennie Wallace to mind, and makes me want to hear a standard or three from him.
"The Road Taken" showcases the group in an adept ballad mode, a beautifully introspective tune with, again, some fine soloing all around, and a bowed bass interlude backed by gentle comping.
Common Man, full of strong original tunes in the '60s Blue Note Records mode, introduces a talented newcomer, drummer Pete Zimmer.