Various Artists

Live at Birdland: Cookin' at Midtown

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Featuring a nice slice of New York's modern jazz crowd, this ten-cut compilation showcases two songs apiece from pianist D.D. Jackson's quintet, trumpeter Dave Douglas' quartet, timbales player Ralph Irizarry and Timbalaye, the Jimmy Greene/Darren Barrett quintet, and guitarist Peter Bernstein's non-organ quartet. Jackson leads off the record in a spiritual mood on "Easy," and follows up with the hot bopper "For Monk's Sake," which features the heart-tugging violin of Christian Howes, the shining star of this entire showcase. The Douglas quartet offers a bluesy "Driftwood" and the slow, dour "The Frisell Dream." Greene and Barrett recall Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers on the hard-charging "Half-Steps," and go easy on the steadiest cut of the disc, "Re-Affirmation." The hottest and most innovative band here is Timbalaye, with its riddle-laden charts and atypical Afro-Cuban grooves. The Oriente Lopez composition "Rampa Arriba" finds this septet using a deep bass and piano line from Waldo Chavez and Luis Perdomo as a thrust for saxophonist Tony Malaby, trombonist Joseph Fiedler, trumpeter Richard Nant, and conga player Robert Quintero. Timbalaye's take on Bob Franceschini's "Piesotes (Giant Feet)" is a sweet, jiving chart featuring a piano montuno and a spontaneous solo by Irizarry. Bernstein is steadily earning a reputation as one of the best young jazz guitarists, as evidenced by his supersonic bopper "Jet Stream" and the midtempo swing of "Booker's Little Blues." Certainly, more can be heard from each of these leaders on their own recordings, but this CD brings them all together in one, nice package. A fine example of the modern jazz movement.

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