Having played with orchestras led by Nancie Banks, Tom Harrell, Bobby Watson, and Slide Hampton, Craig Bailey has strong big-band credentials. Brooklyn, the alto saxman/flutist's second album as a leader, isn't a big-band date -- this hard bop/post-bop effort finds him leading a sextet. However, all that big-band experience is a definite plus because Bailey is going for an ensemble sound. Brooklyn isn't just about Bailey's talents as a soloist -- it is also about his skills as a band leader who composes and arranges. There are three horns (Bailey's alto, Derrick Gardner's trumpet or flügelhorn, and Dupor Georges' trombone), and the hard-swinging rhythm section includes Kelvin Sholar on piano, Vincent Ector on drums, and Eric Lemon, Rufus Reid, or Olivier Gatto on bass. Together, the musicians often favor a very Art Blakey-ish approach -- the Jazz Messengers influence is impossible to miss on Benny Golson's "Along Came Betty" as well as Bailey originals that range from the funky "Home Made Blues" to the gentle "Forbidden Love Affair" and the Brazilian-tinged "Quiet Time." Meanwhile, Bailey pays tribute to Duke Ellington on "Salute to Duke," which finds him acknowledging Johnny Hodges' alto playing without allowing his own personality to be obscured. Brooklyn isn't the least bit innovative, but then, it isn't supposed to be. Bailey's sextet never fails to be pleasing on this solid, if derivative, CD.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson