Got Eyes for You captures more good music from Denver. And it comes from people who are not only stalwart instrumentalists, but are well-known in the world of academia. Co-leader and trumpet player Bob Montgomery has been named "Teacher of the Year" and "Colorado Jazz Educator of the Year." He still found time to work with such jazz icons as Clark Terry. Co-leader, Willie Hill is another educator with a Ph.D. in music and, like Montgomery, has held high level positions in jazz education organizations. Trombone player Al Hermann also sports imposing academic credentials, but as a top ranking physicist. He has performed with sax player President Bill Clinton, but has also worked with many top jazz artists including Ella Fitzgerald and Ellis Marsalis.
Reflecting their inquisitiveness as both professional jazz artists and members of the education community, this group offers a varied program. They cover the spectrum of Montgomery originals, through Horace Silver funk and Joe Henderson bop to classics by Duke Ellington, the Gershwin boys, and Ferde Grofe. Both as solists and in ensemble, the playing on this session exceeds the ordinary. The melding of Hermann's trombone and Montgomery's trumpet is attention getting on Grofe's pseudo classical, "On the Trail." On this tune and on "Recorda-me," the strong influence of Carl Fontana on Hermann is apparent. This Joe Henderson piece also allows Willie Hill to indulge in the kind of gruff and virile but tender tenor playing Henderson's compositions call for. Horace Silver's "Strollin" is the vehicle for an extended piano solo by Jeff Jenkins. Bop, combined with a flirtation with avant-garde, highlights Montgomery's "San Miguel." It all comes to together on a lengthy exposition of Silver's "Nica's Dream." All the players get a chance to show off their wares, but it is Willie Hill's tough, probing tenor playing which steals the show on this track.
Although the major musical protagonists are top flight educators, this album is anything but an academic exercise. This CD is filled with good bop-based music by top flight exponents of the art of jazz and is recommended.