Live at the Otto Club

Sherman Irby Quartet

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Live at the Otto Club Review

by Ken Dryden

After recording a pair of CDs as a leader early in his career for Blue Note, Sherman Irby went the independent route by forming his own label, Black Warrior, freeing him to pursue his own dream rather some A&R director's. His fourth release for his label (and sixth overall) is an exciting live date recording in Italy, with pianist Nico Menci, bassist Marco Marzola, and drummer Darrell Green. He covers some familiar turf, opening with a breezy setting of Oscar Pettiford's "Bohemia After Dark" and ripping through an inspired unaccompanied introduction to John Coltrane's "Countdown," joined by Green after the first minute, with the remainder of the rhythm section making a delayed entrance. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the unusually subdued setting of "Four" (credited to Miles Davis but reputedly composed by Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson), treating it as a very deliberate ballad in an extended performance, losing nothing in the process. Irby's tense, punchy take of Roy Hargrove's "Depth" bristles with energy, while his hip treatment of Thelonious Monk's "In Walked Bud" retains its playfulness. Irby's sole original is the touching ballad "Laura's Love Song" (which in all likelihood is a tribute to his wife). This is another fine date by Sherman Irby.

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