Harold Danko's Stable Mates could very well refer to the musicians appearing with him on this 1997 date (including tenor saxophonist Rich Perry, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Jeff Hirschfield), with whom he regularly recorded for SteepleChase on a number sessions. Likewise, the familiar jazz compositions that make up the playlist are tried and true songs written during the 1950s and 1960s. The upbeat treatment of Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma" showcases Perry's robust tenor first, then the leader's shimmering piano. Thad Jones' "Quietude" is not as widely played as the remaining numbers, but the quartet delivers a solid interpretation of this lyrical gem. The slinky setting of Jimmy Heath's "Gingerbread Boy" has a funky undercurrent, while the breezy yet tense arrangement of "Seven Steps to Heaven" finds Danko taking a back seat behind Perry's solo, allowing him to float over Colley and Hirschfield. Charles Mingus' strutting blues "Nostalgia in Times Square" puts the spotlight on Colley initially, followed by Danko's rollicking solo (with a jaunty air reminiscent of Jaki Byard) and Perry. "Stablemates" proves to be the most surprising track, with an abstract approach that gradually takes shape, though not revealing itself until the final chorus.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden