Quick Hits
By Brad Walseth

Boston-born alto saxophonist McCabe is deserving of your consideration as a modern artist who is steeped in the tradition of great players, including Trane, Jackie McLean, Eric Dolphy, Cannonball Adderly, George Coleman, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins and more. On this delightful straight-ahead (yet at times delightfully jagged) set, McCabe is backed by pianist Uri Caine (who is more noted for his avant garde credentials, but here seems perfectly at home playing in a more straight-ahead context), bassist Ugonna Okegwo (Tom Harrell, Benny Golson, Pharoah Sanders) and drummers Greg Hutchinson (Joe Henderson, Ray Brown) and Rudy Royston (Bill Frisell, Tia Fuller). The band comes out swinging on "Weezie's Waltz" which will immediately bring a smile to your face, while reminding you of Trane's work with McCoy Tyner on My Favorite Things. Royston's ebullient drumming is a treat here as well. "Lonnegan" is a straight-ahead burner with McCabe employing a somewhat piercing tone that is quite appealing. It is astounding to hear Caine in this setting and he excels - adding some intriguing touches to his straight ahead playing. Both Okegwo and drummer Hutchinson get into the act with solid solos here too. "Kalido" (also with Hutchinson on drums) is a another piece in waltz time that adds enough of a free edge to the mainstream arrangement to please, while the title track simmers with quiet fire. "Good Morning Heartache" - a hit for Billie Holiday - is given epic (12:05) proportions, which once again resemble Coltrane and Tyner's work from the early '60s, and this song is perhaps the highlight of the recording - with great work from all and truly outstanding solos from Caine and McCabe. The too-brief "St. Pat" takes things in a more free form direction, albeit a quite appealing one, while the album ends with a sterling take on the standard "How Little We Know" - with McCabe displaying a superior melodic feel - that will leave the listener humming. McCabe has been making a name for himself as a player on the rise and this reputation will certainly be enhanced by this fine gem of a recording.


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