U.K. jazz pianist Harry Waters has one foot in vintage music and the other in modern sounds, blending the two for the most part and differentiating on occasion. His septet for this recording features some fellow British understudies, the legendary saxophonist/clarinetist Alan Barnes, tenor saxophonist Ian Ritchie, and vibraphonist Roger Beaujolais lending a cool hue to the proceedings. Waters projects a refined approach that is quite conventional and safe, though at times he does personally infer a more refined reflection of his influences -- Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, and Keith Jarrett. These pieces are originals penned by Waters, not challenging or difficult, and speaking to his comfort zone as a purely mainstream jazz artist, with no frills, challenges, or bold inventions to serve up. The charts are cool in the hippest sense, not ones to raise an eardrum to attention, laying between easy swing and linear flat. The group sound is quite similar to the Modern Jazz Quartet on the simplified "Spring Stepping," the even more stripped-down "Scholar's Mate," and the tinkling piano of the leader meeting small shout chorus horns toned into a blues during "Peterson's Bounce." "Juggling for Beginners" speaks to a retro-traditional sound emphasized by oom-pah-pah, and accented by the pungent lilac clarinet of Barnes. The vintage flavor of "Jumping" is more swing than a leap, the lone standard "Rum and Coca-Cola" retains a New Orleans "Iko Iko" feel, "Alligator's Funeral" is straight from a Crescent City funeral dirge, and "Blues in G" sounds like it is based on the phrasings of "Swingin' 'Til the Girls Come Home." The most complex piece, "Blues in F," is not as basic as the title implies, sporting a modal theme and involved writing that is much more unpredictable. Waters is a good piano player who wears his many influences on his sleeve, but not in an obvious way. The bonus track, "Jarrett's Dream," with a quintet different than the rest of the CD, is not nearly as deep, Zen-like, or emotional, but does suggest some of the breezy California or classically oriented European repeat lines Keith Jarrett does favor. This is a consistent but not high-level recording of mainstream jazz that is pleasant enough, but not an essential representation of his potential.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos