She's a pianist originally from Albuquerque, he's a drummer from upstate New York. They've been living, studying, teaching, and performing in the Boston area since the 1980s. Here they team up with tenor/soprano saxophonist Bill Pierce, French-horn icon Tom Varner, and bassist Ron Mahdi to record one standard and eight of Candelaria's modern neo-bop compositions. Candelaria's beautiful array of sonorous chime chording and light lines imbues all of these pieces with a silky feline quality. Jon Hazilla is quite a skilled percussionist. Displaying impeccably good taste, he's also clever, sensitive, daring, and an immaculate timekeeper. Picking Varner and Pierce for this date was a masterstroke, as they mesh beautifully. The outstanding title cut features piano and soprano in a dark, easy-swinging vibe. A modal tick-tock kineticism drives "Java Jive," with tenor overdubbed for playful effect. Varner and Pierce dig into staccato phrases on the Billy Childs tribute "Child's Play." Candelaria's ringing chords are most prevalent on this composition, with Hazilla's drum trapping yielding some arresting developments. "Out of Kilter" is also a unique piece, with a stealth horn line see-sawing back and forth while bass and drums fill in the cracks. "Waltz for You" showcases Pierce's loping tenor and lots of deft cymbal work by Hazilla. The Donald Brown tribute "Groove for D.B." features swaggering sax and a more modal approach. Billy Strayhorn's "Johnny Come Lately" is a very good interpretation of a bluesy number. There's a slinky cha-cha under the surface melody of "Zia" and the lustrous ballad "In Your Voice," which is almost a wedding-aisle saunter. Few recordings will grow on you like this one. It's chock full of hooks, precision, interesting sidebars, and excellent musicianship.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos