Stepping back from his regular New York Big Band setup, John Fedchock applies his considerable talent and attention to a small group session. Armed with a play list that has compositions by Fedchock, contemporaries like Tom Harrell and Kenny Barron, and one straightforward standard, the trombonist and his confreres offer an hour's worth of scintillating and attention catching performances. Fedchock has got to be one of the more lyrical trombone players on today's jazz scene. His seamless technique, reminiscent of Urbie Green, permits the listener to concentrate on the music rather than on the virtuosity of the player. While he may be a wizard with the slide instrument, his technique is so transparent that it doesn't humble the music. While this attribute is present on all cuts, it is especially effective on the haunting "Twilight" with precise and to the point playing. One problem here is that the tune goes on too long, running out of ideas about three-fourths of the way through. But there's no denying the mellifluous Fedchock trombone. Showing an ability to completely rework familiar material giving it another perspective, John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" is made over as a waltz, a somewhat risky venture fooling around with this pedestal occupying jazz standard. But the group pulls it off with aplomb. There's relief offered in the fairly serious proceedings up to now with Fedchock's original "Hit the Bricks," where the trombone player reveals he can get a quick tongued staccato from the instrument as well as long lyrical lines. The tune provides a chance for the rest of the players to show off. Chris Potter on tenor, Scott Wendholt on trumpet, Allen Farnham on piano, along with Fedchock, are in the solo spotlight propelled along with punctuating drum breaks by Dave Ratajczak. The one standard, "I'm Thru With Love," gets a sprightly reading as Fedchock uses his polished slide technique to give this oft played tune a new luster.
Not surprisingly, modern music dominates this session, but it is modern music that is symmetrical and harmonious and therefore a joy to the ear. Fedchock makes sure that the emphasis is on the music, not on the technical wizardry of the players. A refreshing approach in these days of large egos. Recommended.