All too often, talented jazz composers will inundate listeners with overdone standards because they think it is expected of them. Not every jazz musician composes, but it's a shame when those who have solid compositional skills are shy about putting their original songs on display. But that isn't a problem on Petty Theft, a melodic, relatively accessible post-bop date that pianist Skip Wilkins co-leads with flutist Jill Allen. Except for "Let's Get Lost" (which trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker defined in 1955), Wilkins and Allen stick to their own material. Allen contributes two up-tempo pieces: "Sunlit Samba" and the opener, "Skip & Me," both of which have the sort of optimistic post-bop exuberance one might expect from Pharoah Sanders. Wilkins, meanwhile, contributes the slower, more reflective offerings, which include "For Joe," "Hovering," and the melancholy "Without You." Wilkins and Allen are both quite lyrical, and their compatibility is hard to miss on this CD. Gratefully, they have sympathetic company in bassist Tony Marino, drummer Tom Whaley, and saxman David Liebman (who is featured on "Skip & Me" and "Hovering"). Depending on the session, Liebman can play either inside or outside -- some of his work has been quite avant-garde, but the versatile saxman (who is heard on both tenor and soprano) pretty much sticks to inside playing on this session. Not a masterpiece but generally enjoyable, Petty Theft indicates that Wilkins and Allen should record together more often.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson