The Steve Heckman Quintet strikes gold with Search for Peace!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Following up the critically acclaimed release Born To Be Blue, Steve Heckman continues his old school riff on some classics and one stellar original with Search for Peace. If it ain't broke don't fix it could be the alternate title as Heckman brings back the band that helped catapult his previous release which remained on the JazzWeek chart for 12 weeks and garnered national a spot in the top 20 in national jazz radio air play. A household name he is not but with a sound that embraces the harmonic happy place between John Coltrane and Hank Mobley, one would be hard pressed to find a better instrumentalist.
Some classics are reinvented including the vibrant Blue Mitchell tune "Funji Mama" where the call and response between Heckman and guitarist Howard Alden is the prime example of what the straight ahead blowing session is all about. "Funji Mama" bookends well with the Grant Green smoker "Grantstand." The classic McCoy Tyner composition and title track "Search for Peace" is an introspective and somewhat melancholy look at just where Heckman's strengths take over with an unmatched lyrical sense of purpose. Other compositions are from John Coltrane, Sonny Clark and Vernon Duke but the tunes are far from the classic greatest hits approach most artists would take in banging out a quick recording. Steve Heckman goes for some deep catalog material for a more eclectic approach that will have the hard core fan thrilled and peak the interest of those just getting started. The original minor blues with a groove you can use is the original "Hangin' at Slug's" which reaffirms that Heckman is far from a one trick pony. Heckman also includes some masterful baritone work adding some rich color and texture to a release already set on perfection.
Search for Peace is a rock solid old school session with flair and a smoldering swing. Criticism? Too short! The musical co-conspirator are on point and the rhythm section is A list all the way.
Tracks: Funji Mama; Grantstand; Search for Peace; Pannonica; Hi-Fly; Hangin' at Slug's; Melody for C; Autumn in New York; Spiral.
Personnel: Steve Heckman: Tenor and Baritone Saxophone; Howard Alden: Guitar; Matt Clark: Hammond B-3 Organ; Marcus Shelby: Bass; Akira Tana: Drums