Nick Brignola

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Brignola's burly, bossy, brash, broad-ranging baritone sax sound is intact and quite pronounced, as always, on this, yet another one of his excellent recordings, the ninth for the Reservoir label. This time around, Brignola and his knights go into battle on five standards, three penned by the leader and one from electric guitarist Chuck D'Aloia, who plays on five tracks. Vibist Dave Pike is heard throughout, mostly as a soloist, while bassist John Patitucci and drummer Billy Hart do their usual stellar job. Brignola's opener, "Green St. Groove," perfectly exemplifies his innate ability to swing, get down, and have fun. His sly unison underpinnings with Patitucci turn into hyena laughs for this melody. "In the Zone" has him looser and rambling in a hard bop mode, while "Tea for Three" expands "Tea for Two" in a more focused manner, highly melodic but developing his own tunefulness. And talk about getting down to business, Brignola rushes through the head of the Sonny Rollins classic "Pent-Up House" as if he were a caged animal, getting right to the improv on this wild, wooly, wonderful rendition. Though "How Deep Is the Ocean?" is calmer, he still rips through clusters of 8th, 16th, and 32nd notes as though they were child's play. The tender moments occur on a bari-guitar-oriented "Darn That Dream," and a bossa-to-samba/bari-vibes taking turns on the classic "I Wished on the Moon." D'Aloia's "Fast Food," and in-and-out loose bopper, has the guitarist joining in late in the song, and two versions of "Seven Come Eleven" have Brignola on soprano sax, the first a hard swing-to-bop version, the other much slower, with Hart in a New Orleans shuffling attitude. It's hard to know where Brignola might place this in his solid discography, but it probably ranks in the top half, and is as universally enjoyable as any he has created. Recommended, as are all of his recorded works.

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