Despite its name, The Hard-Bop Saxophone Quartet performs in a variety of jazz styles, not just hard-bop. Hailing from Fargo, North Dakota, the group is at its best at its quirkiest, particularly when performing some of the highly original arrangements of its members. While the individual players (Mark Watkins, Russ Peterson, Paul Liversdage, and Harvey Sommerfield) are not well known, they manage to create some fascinating music in a variety of genres, ranging from the funky "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" to the off-beat rendering of Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa." Capable of a big orchestral sound, and a touch of humor, the primary failing of the Quartet is the erratic quality of the compositions, most of which are originals. Still, there are some fine and even unique moments here, presaging the potential for greater things to come. Watkins and Peterson, in particular, contribute some fine improvisations.
AllMusic Review by Steve Loewy