Stan Killian makes an impressive debut as a leader with Unified, featuring the tenor saxophonist with pianist Benito Gonzalez, a rotating cast of bassists (Corcoran Holt or Bryan Copeland), and drummers (Darrell Green or McClenty Hunter), along with a few guests (trumpeters Roy Hargrove and Jeremy Pelt plus alto saxophonist David Binney). The leader, a big-toned player with a versatile sound, wrote six of the CD's seven songs, all of which stand up to repeated hearings. "Twin Dark Mirrors" throws a bit of a curve, with Killian's Coltrane-like sax and Hargrove's soft-spoken trumpet trading licks over Gonzalez's glistening piano in the introduction, then the piece shifts into an upbeat, strolling post-bop mood; it's not surprising to learn that it is Killian's salute to Miles Davis' recordings with Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Wayne Shorter. Pelt joins Killian for a lively workout in "Center," which is built upon a solid, catchy rhythm. Binney is added for Gonzalez's spry "Elvin's Sight," a boisterous, midtempo cooker with an infectious Latin undercurrent. Both saxophonists shine with their contrasting solos, with Killian being more reserved than the adventurous Binney, while the composer's turn in the spotlight is solid hard bop. The blend of the two saxophonists creates a lush mood in Killian's quiet ballad "Unified." The various combinations of bassists and drummers provide a solid foundation for the soloists throughout the sessions. Recommended.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden