Swiss-born alto saxophonist George Robert stayed busy during the 1990s with good reason; he consistently produced one strong CD after another. He led his working quintet in a studio date immediately following a 1994 tour of Canada, joined by his favorite pianist, Dado Moroni, along with guitarist Oliver Gannon, bassist Reggie Johnson, and drummer George Ursan. He takes a very different approach to standards with an upbeat samba treatment of "Old Folks" and a mid-tempo waltzing arrangement of "With a Song in My Heart," as well as a brisk run through Kenny Barron's post-bop anthem "Voyage" (which is becoming a favorite of many jazz players) and a thoroughly enjoyable excursion into Billy Strayhorn's "Upper Manhattan Medical Group." Robert's five originals (especially his strutting "One for Thad," named for Thad Jones) and Gannon's "So Nice" (based on "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To") are also noteworthy. The solos tend to be short and crisp as they are passed around between the musicians, and the quintet's playing is high caliber throughout the date. Recommended.
by Ken Dryden