Jim Rotondi

Iron Man

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Trumpeter Jim Rotondi has been a fixture on New York's hard bop scene for some time, and has recorded extensively as both a sideman and leader. But Iron Man is something of a departure for him; in addition to a front line consisting of Rotondi and saxophonist Jimmy Greene, his quintet includes a rhythm section consisting of bassist Doug Weiss, drummer Bill Stewart, and vibraphonist Steve Nelson. Having vibes without piano lends an unusual tonal color to the group, and if the result isn't a completely unqualified success, it does succeed more than it fails. Things get off to a slightly awkward start with the title track, a lovely Rotondi original that is marred by Nelson's blocky and rhythmically clumsy comping. But the whole group settles nicely into the slippery chord changes of "Chouchou" and the equally beautiful "For My Nephews." Rotondi's "Digit" is a bracing and harmonically complex hard bop workout that brings just the right note of energy at exactly the right point in the program; the group's rendition of "Repetition" is another beautiful high point. Throughout the album, Rotondi's soft-edged but beautifully burnished tone is a complete pleasure to hear. Recommended.

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