Saratoga has long held a special place in Cole Broderick's heart. As a youth growing up in Albany, NY, most of his summers were spent there. He now lives in that city where he has been working with this group for more than ten years.
This album is the latest by his quartet in a series which attempts musically to capture the mood of each season in Saratoga, NY -- a kind of jazzy "Four Seasons." The first three issues dealt with spring, summer, and autumn, respectively, with this latest entry turning to the vagaries of winter for that town in northern New York which was once a popular watering hole for the rich and famous. It seems that the musical ideas had begun to wear a bit thin by the time winter arrived. With the exception of the last cut "Winter Ballad," all of the tunes are played sprightly and brightly. Perhaps the objective was to relieve the gloominess which often accompanies the season in Upstate New York. Moreover, whether it be within solos by Broderick, Marcus Benoit, or Ray Jung, or while playing as a quartet, Gene Garone's incessant, insistent backbeat is always present. This is smooth or contemporary jazz; it is the "stream of consciousness" playing which charcterizes that jazz style. While the rhythm can be catchy, the playing is seamless; there's never a pause, break, or change of tempo, which can get cloying. Even "Pompano" with its Latin beat, is not a break from the rhythmical straightjacket. Moreover, filling an album solely with original material -- here written either by Broderick or Benoit -- is always a risky venture. Listeners usually want to hear at least some material they recognize to provide a basis on which to judge the interpretative capabilities of the artists. That's not possible when the entire set is made up of unfamiliar tunes, and when all of them are played pretty much the same way.
These musicians are good players. Marcus Benoit's boppish tenor sax is especially attractive. What's unfortunate is that the material doesn't allow an opportunity for the artists to fully exhibit their jazz skills.