Cindy Blackman has led a long series of mostly acoustic jazz dates for the Muse and High Note labels. This particular set features her working group of 2000, a quartet with tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen, keyboardist Carlton Holmes, and bassist George Mitchell. Most intriguing are inventive reworkings of such veteran standards as "My Funny Valentine" (which is given a mildly disturbing mood), "Someday My Prince Will Come" (which is no-nonsense rather than being sweetly sentimental), and "Walkin'," which is taken much slower than usual. Together this trio of songs is a tribute of sorts to Miles Davis. The other pieces are group originals, including five by the drummer/leader (two of which are brief drum solos). These are post-bop explorations, often rather dark in mood and giving all four musicians opportunities to set the direction and to interact with each other. The result is an album of high-quality modern jazz.
by Scott Yanow