Marc Edelman of Sharp Nine Records caught these young up-and-comers in action just as some of them were wrapping up their formal studies. The identical Strickland brothers -- Marcus on tenor and E.J. on drums -- are on hand, along with Julius Tolentino on alto, Jeremy Pelt on trumpet, Jeb Patton on piano, and Brandon Owens on bass. The talent pool here is deep, and the program is an even split between covers and originals. Dexter Gordon's bright, boppish "I Want More" kicks off the session; the other picks are Reuben Brown's lively and melodic "Billy" (which starts out sounding like the coda of "My Ship"), Jimmy Heath's minor blues "The Quota," and Jackie McLean's up-tempo blues head "Bird Lives." Marcus Strickland plays soprano on Tolentino's breezy "Dedicated to Dad" and Pelt's 3/4 ballad "Reassurance"; he glows on tenor on his own harmonically involved "For Fewer Words," while Pelt gives yearning expression to the high melody notes of Patton's bossa "All Is Not Lost." Loose and flexible rhythm section interplay, beautifully voiced horns, focused and mature improvisation -- these players may be fresh out of class, but they're already pros.
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AllMusic Review by David R. Adler