Gratitude, Eric Felten's second CD as a leader, finds the young trombonist in the company of some seasoned veterans, but his confident playing doesn't give away his age. Brent Wallarab contributed the arrangements, which start with a stunning take of Johnny Hodges' "Jeep's Blues." Though trumpeter Randy Brecker, tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, and the leader each produce a great solo, it is bass clarinetist Bob Mintzer (who sounds somewhat inspired by Eric Dolphy) who steals the show with his adventurous solo. Felten's lyrical tone in the ballad "I Fall in Love Too Easily" has a vocal quality to it. The remainder of the session is devoted to Felten's originals. His fat-toned solo leads off the brisk-paced "Pretty Lies," while it is the richly textured harmony of the unison passages in the ballad "Gratitude" that stay with the listener. "Pie-Eye" (the name of the character Duke Ellington played in the film Anatomy of a Murder) is not a swing composition but very heavily post-bop, though one could imagine Ellington tilting his earlobe and snapping on the afterbeat in approval. The rhythm section, consisting of pianist Jonny King, bassist Ira Coleman (with Paul Henry subbing on one track), and drummer Billy Drummond, is first-rate. The only surprise is that Felten didn't release another CD as a leader until 2003, eight years after this excellent disc.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden