Marc Bernstein had long been a fan of Tom Harrell prior to getting to know him. In 1999 he joined Harrell for a brief European concert tour, then immediately went into the studio to cut several tracks with him. Bernstein's "Passionate" is a loping yet emotional work, showcasing him on alto sax. Bassist Jesper Bodilsen contributed the upbeat opener (featuring the leader on soprano sax) and the haunting ballad "Between Myself," the latter showcasing Harrell's suitably fragile solo. Harrell's two originals were recorded live during a concert preceding the first studio session; both feature larger ensembles. "Madrid" is an exotic work with a definite Spanish air, with Harrell's subdued, lyrical statement following Bernstein's smoking tenor sax. The tricky "Recitation" is a demanding work, though the musicians master Harrell's challenging composition and the two players engage in some illuminating collective improvisation. The final two pieces were recorded without Harrell in a 2001 session, substituting organ for piano. Woody Shaw's "Theme for Maxine" is a hip, urban affair, though Bernstein's brief detour on soprano sax into John Coltrane's A Love Supreme proves a bit distracting. Bernstein's sauntering "555 Blues" showcases the leader (on alto) and trumpeter Chris Rogers to wrap the CD.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden