Conventional wisdom states that drum solos become very boring, very fast. After hearing Chicago drummer Jerry Steinhilber's maiden album, "so much for conventional wisdom." Steinhilber has a light touch and a unique sense of the rhythmic potential offered by the drum set. He follows in the footsteps of Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, and others who moved the instrument beyond keeping time and laying down the beat. Steinhilber opens "A Sense of Fairness" with a lengthy solo, managing to create a rhythmic wash of percussive sounds that eventually melds into the motifs of the other members of the band as they join in, especially Brian Sjoerdinga on tenor. His musical foil is pianist Jim Trompeter on "One Way," a track that recalls blowing sessions of the 1960s. But unlike many modern drummers, Steinhilber makes relatively little use of ride and hi-hat cymbals. When he brings these percussive ingredients into play, he does so with a subtle and delicate touch. He also is an equal partner in the development and execution of improvisational ideas, and does so without becoming meddlesome. In this sense, he takes on the traditional role of the drummer, urging other members of the band to extend themselves. How he does this is best heard on "Monk's Mood," where he moves underneath Sjoerdinga's tenor and, to a lesser extent, Trompeter's piano, gently nudging these two to expand their ways with Monk's masterpiece of musical impressionism. The appropriately named "Balance" brings some lightness to an otherwise serious session, as everyone is quite sprightly while moving along on this bright tune. Kelly Sill's light touch on the bass is prominent on this cut. A solid session of modern jazz, this album is recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan