Jim Rotondi has been very active playing and recording on the Manhattan jazz scene as a bandleader, sideman, and member of the collective One for All. This 2008 session finds him joined by vibraphonist Joe Locke, drummer Bill Stewart, pianist Danny Grissett, and bassist Barak Mori, interpreting several of the trumpeter's originals and a few jazz songs that have been sporadically recorded. Rotondi is one of the underrated composers of his generation. His driving post-bop "Bizzaro World" is actually a very straight-ahead piece. "Gravitude" is an uptempo cooker showcasing his spirited trumpet, while his jazz waltz "One for Felix" has an infectious groove. Rotondi subtly alters the Beatles' "We Can Work It Out" by playing the first half of its famous theme, then seguing into a lively improvised section with a bit of a funky flavor featuring Locke, Grissett, and himself, while only partially resolving the piece at its conclusion. The late Buddy Montgomery's "1000 Rainbows" is unjustly an obscurity, but the band digs into this sauntering, slightly bittersweet soulful number, with a fine muted solo by the leader and Locke's delicate yet breezy feature. Mel Tormé's somber ballad "Born to Be Blue" is usually performed by vocalists, but Rotondi's exquisite horn is a more than adequate substitute, conveying the essence of Bob Wells' lyric without having to literally sing. This is easily among Jim Rotondi's top releases in his discography.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden