Judging by the high caliber of musicians he was able to bring into the studio for his maiden recording, young pianist Nick Rolfe has earned the respect of his peers through his work with Benny Golson, Cecil McBee, and the Winard Harper Sextet. Joined by just rhythm, Rolfe recalls his association with Golson with a perky rendition of Golson's jazz classic "Along Came Betty." Richie Goods' bass excels on this cut. Rolfe shows his blues leanings on his own "Headrum's Blues (For Mr. Goods)," a musical nod to the bass player. There are also a few standards peppered among the play list, two from Duke Ellington. "In a Sentimental Mood" leads off with some tremolo by Goods as Rolfe gently rides in with the melody. The result is a very attractive but thoughtful presentation of this classic. In contrast, "Caravan" is kicked of by Cecil Brooks III's circus parade-like drums with Rolfe alternating between exotic and swinging tempo runs and other dazzling pianistic technique. The essence of the proceedings is Rolfe's two-part suite honoring his mother. The first half, "Maryann - Part 1: Requiem," capsulizes in music the depth of his relationship with his mother. The second, "Maryann- Part II: Celebration," immortalizes their bond. On the first part, Rolfe is by himself, and on the second he is joined by the rest of the group, getting excellent work from saxophonist Bruce Williams and drummer Brooks. Throughout this session, Rolfe shows a huge ability to change moods, tempos, and musical strategies which, when combined with his ability to deliver on an interesting and varied play list, makes this an impressive inaugural CD. Assuredly there will be much more to come from Rolfe in the future.
The Persuader Review
by Dave Nathan