Jazz triple threat.
There are pretenders that may dable in a few areas simply in an effort to pay the bills. Understandable.
Richard Sussman is the real deal and a highly regarded pianist, composer, and professor of jazz composition at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music in the Big Apple! Sussman has assembled an all star quintet for his latest Origin records release Continuum. The horn section alone is Randy Brecker on trumpet and flugelhorn and the great Jerry Bergonzi holds down the fort on tenor saxophone. Toss in a guest shot by guitarist Mike Stern and the results are killer. The rhythm section is rounded out with Mike Richmond on bass and Jeff Williams on drums and with Sussman on piano and synthesizer there is instant chemistry.
There is a grand spatial texture, a varitable sonic buffet for the sampling which opens with the funky ode to Horace Silver "Spare Change." This Sussman original captures the essence of Silver as well as any with a keen sense of melody combined with the infectious funk that is Horace Silver. "Mike's Blues" was written especially for guitarist Mike Stern and is right in Stern's wheelhouse as a funk oriented blues hybrid in a slightly odd yet captivating meter. The title track "Continuum" is a fitting piece highlighting the prolific talents of Sussman both as composer and performer while performing a sonic exploratory with the aid of Brecker, Bergonzi and drummer Jeff Williams. One of the most captivating aspects of the release is the modern jazz sound given the old working band feel as all performers are given a chance to shine.
Continuum is an ironic title for a release steeped in diversity. While a similar release of such stylisitc variety could easily strip the musical gears of most listeners there is an ebb and flow here that does indeed bind the release together into a delightful expression of musical synergy by this stellar quintet.
In short...Sussman slays this one. Sleeper of the year? 5 Stars!
Tracks: Spare Change; Meridian; Alone Together; The Wayfarer; Crossroads; Mike's Blues; Theme For Ernie; It's Never Too Late; Continuum.
Personnel: Richard Sussman: piano & synthesizer; Randy Brecker: trumpet & flugelhorn; Jerry Bergonzi: tenor sax; Mike Richmond: bass; Jeff Williams: drums; Mike Stern: guitar (6).
Special Thanks To Jim at Jazz Promo Services.