The group RadioAction is made up four young modern jazz artists working out of the New York area, although recorded here by the West Coast label Origin. These artists have something to say with their interpretations of the items on the play list, whether it be one of the original compositions or a jazz or classic standard. The tone of their conversations is sometimes piercing, as guided by the alto sax of Alex Graham and Whitney Ashe's piano on Gil Evans' rarely recorded "Barracudas." Other times, their attitude is moderated, influenced by the type of music they're playing. On "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most," Graham's alto statement is stunningly lyrical as it rides the melody line over Ashe's comping piano. The improvisational excursions on this cut are imaginative, daring, and filled with surprises, all of them pleasant. Gary Wang reveals significant chops on bass during the more than eight-and-a-half-minute exposition of this classic standard. Although all the players get plenty of action on this CD, it's Graham's sax that establishes the ground rules for the way the music is to be advanced. Some of the great alto players, Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, Phil Woods, and even a touch of Johnny Hodges can be discerned as he works to extend the parameters of the horn on such cuts as "Enlah" and the album's tour de force track, Graham's haunting, absorbing "More or Less." As with most small groups that have set their targets on playing modern jazz, it takes some time to mature and meld, to assure that both individual and group ideas are fully developed and presented. With this maiden CD, RadioAction is well on its way to achieving that performing nirvana.
by Dave Nathan