It is easy to think of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers when one hears drummer Winard Harper's quintet. Like Blakey, Harper mostly performs songs from within the band along with occasional standards. The music is very much in the hard bop genre with fiery ensembles and concise solos, all driven by Harper's drums. One senses that the sidemen are inspired by the momentum and drive of the music, being pushed to play at their best at all times. Trumpeter Patrick Rickman has a brittle tone and, although not a virtuoso, puts heartfelt feeling into his playing. Both he and saxophonist Brian Horton are solid soloists who will surely continue to grow and evolve in the future. Both Jeb Patton and Kelvin Sholar, who share the piano bench, are fine straight-ahead pianists, and bassist Ameen Saleem is excellent in support of the lead voices. Hopefully, Winard Harper will be able to keep his group together for an extended period, for playing this style of jazz provides excellent experience for up-and-coming musicians.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow
feat: Cecil Brooks III