Although not derivative or music that is strictly re-created, this outing from veteran drummer Louis Hayes can be subtitled "Back to Blue Note." The music is often fiery and spirited hard bop with Hayes driving the ensembles. Riley Mullins is a spirited trumpeter who is featured quite effectively on a mute on "Ill Wind," while Abraham Burton's tenor solos show the influence of John Coltrane in spots but have a personality of their own; he is excellent during his ballad showcase on Lee Morgan's "Second Best." But actually pianist Dave Hazeltine, who has the most mature style of the main soloists, often takes honors, particularly on his own "Pentagon." In addition to three group originals, the program features music from Horace Silver (a couple of his lesser-known songs: "Pyramid" and "Safari"), Lee Morgan, Anthony Newley, and Freddie Redd. Redd's "Thespian" is a particular highlight, starting with a thoughtful melody statement, doubling its tempo, and then ending with a speedy reading of the complex theme. Newley's "The Candy Man," despite its childish melody, is turned into swinging jazz. Along the way Hayes and bassist Santi DeBriano have a couple solos, but the main emphasis is on the individual statements of the horns and Hazeltine. The energy and enthusiasm of the musicians, in addition to the well-planned program, make this a highly recommended effort.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow