George Coleman

Danger High Voltage

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Danger High Voltage Review

by David R. Adler

Danger High Voltage is significant in two respects: It is the first release from the Two and Four Recording Company, and it marks the reformation of the George Coleman Octet, which hadn't recorded since its debut in 1977. The horn section consists of Coleman and special guest Ned Otter on tenor saxes, Jim Rotondi on trumpet, Adam Brenner on alto, and Gary Smulyan on baritone. The rhythm section is anchored by two veterans, pianist Harold Mabern and bassist Ray Drummond, along with drummer George Coleman, Jr. and percussionist Daniel Sadownick.

Beginning with Coleman's bouncy arrangement of Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely," the little big band goes on to feature its various members. Adam Brenner shines on fellow altoist Bobby Watson's hard-bopping "Conservation," while Jim Rotondi is given the floor on the lovely ballad "Portrait of Jennie," again arranged by Coleman. Ned Otter takes center stage on Frank Foster's classic waltz "Simone" and his own 4/4 arrangement of the great standard "Tenderly." In general, Otter's tone is less round and his rhythmic approach a bit less focused than Coleman's.

To close the album, the group presents Bill Lee's Latin arrangement of Consuela Lee's "Follow Me" and, finally, Coleman's original "Pretty Blues." Because there are so many other players present, one shouldn't look to this record for a comprehensive survey of Coleman's tenor abilities. However, as an accessible, straight-ahead ensemble jazz outing, Danger High Voltage is about as solid as it gets.

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