Because Harvey Mason has appeared so frequently as a sideman on lots of smooth jazz dates, one tends to think of him solely within that genre, even though his roots are in straight-ahead jazz. This rare date as a leader features the drummer leading a series of 11 different piano-bass-drums trios, primarily in post-bop, bop or hard bop settings. His arrangement of "Bernie's Tune" is very refreshing, utilizing reoccurring displaced rhythm behind Kenny Barron and Ron Carter. The magic continues with Chick Corea and Dave Carpenter in their creative rendition of "If I Should Lose You." Victor Feldman's less familiar "So Near, So Far" features Fred Hersch and Eddie Gomez, though the expected influence of the late Bill Evans is minimal. But elder statesman Hank Jones steals the spotlight with his elegant interpretation of "Tess," a tune that was brand new to him; Mason and Jones' longtime bassist George Mraz joins him. Some of the other participating musicians for this project include Monty Alexander, Charlie Haden, Cedar Walton, Mulgrew Miller, Herbie Hancock, Brad Mehldau, Bob James and Dave Grusin. Mason's informative liner notes not only describe how each take came together in the studio but add background about his relationship to each musician or what appealed to him about each individual's playing. The only oversight on this terrific release is the inadvertent omission of track-by-track composer credits, though a few of them are included within Mason's commentary.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden