Although a veteran pianist by the time this 1996 CD was made for Blue Chip Jazz, this was Theo Saunders' third opportunity to record as a leader. Accompanied by bassist Chris Symer and drummer Michael Stephans, he offers a mix of fresh interpretations of familiar songs and stunning originals. The trio devours Joe Henderson's "The Kicker" for starters, followed by his playful hard bop vehicle "In a Sentimonkal Mood," though if it salutes either Duke Ellington or Thelonious Monk, it is only in a very fleeting sense. Miles Davis' "Nardis" is all but owned by the late Bill Evans due to his many interpretations of this landmark modal composition, yet this interpretation is introduced by Stephans alone, before settling into a dark Latin groove. Saunders' lyricism comes out in his subdued yet haunting arrangement of "Cry Me a River." This fine session should have put Theo Saunders more firmly on the jazz map, but in any case, this is a CD worth acquiring.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden