Torch Songs marks saxophonist/composer Jeremy Udden's stunning debut as a leader. Joining him on five tracks are three well-known artists: guitarist Ben Monder, the in-demand drummer Matt Wilson and bassist John Lockwood. He plays soprano on the Latin-flavored "Every Step" and achieves an enticing, dry alto sound in the brooding "Eternal Flame." Valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer is added to the group for the reflective ballad "Marin," while he also shares the spotlight with Udden (on alto) in the intricate miniature "Afterthought" that seemingly nods to the work of Lennie Tristano. A trio of tracks feature Udden with a different lineup, adding Leo Genovese (on electric piano) and tenor saxophonist Nathan Blehar, with some shifts in the rhythm section (guitarist Tim Miller on one song, plus Garth Stevenson and Ziv Ravitz on bass and drums respectively). The loping "Fish Lake" has a sense of longing, while Udden switches to alto for the late Steve Lacy's demanding "Blinks," which the group executes with finesse. This is a very promising beginning for Jeremy Udden, who will be one to watch.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden