Normally a steady diet of original compositions on a musician's debut date as a leader is risky, but pianist Martin Schack is clearly up to the task. With tenor saxophonist John Ellis (who switches to soprano sax on some tracks), bassist Joshua Ginsburg, and drummer Niclas Campagnol, Schack's invigorating "The City" is an accurate portrayal of the hustle and bustle of New York City. "My Blues" is an unusual piece with a bluesy theme played by the leader accompanied by a shuffle rhythm underneath and some soulful soprano sax by Ellis. "Keep Them Chords Comin'," originally written with pianist Hal Galper and saxophonist David Liebman in mind (the latter provided the title with his offhand comment to the composer), is easily the most challenging piece of the date. The only standard present is "Alone Together," though the incorporation of a reggae-flavored rhythm provides an interesting backdrop for Ellis' soprano sax. The other four tracks add trumpeter and flugelhornist Tom Harrell, who is a major asset to any recording session. "Summer Bossa" sounds much like something Harrell (a very talented composer) could have written himself, while the intensity of "To Elvin and Cleve" (dedicated to drummer Elvin Jones and one of his students, Cleve Pozar) and the rich textures within the ballad "Headin' Home" also prove to be memorable. Schack's "Dedication to Tom Harrell" is a constantly shifting piece with some tasty unison lines between Harrell and Ellis, but the centerpiece of the song is his intense solo. This rewarding debut is warmly recommended to post-bop fans.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden