(Anton Schwartz, tenor sax; Peter Bernstein, guitar; Taylor Eigsti, piano; John Shifflett, bass; Tim Bulkley, drums)
Schwartz is an up-and-coming tenorman in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has released his latest album in both a standard CD and special DVD-A form. We haven’t had many of the latter lately, so it’s nice to have the super fidelity of this 96K/24bit session, even it it’s not surround. Mastering engineer Paul Stubblebine was involved, so this is a first-class audiophile product. It’s actually an individually-burned DVD-R.
All the songs are composed by Anton with the exception of Jobim’s classic Wave, and they all play around with the structure of the blues, but are not necessarily all bluesy-sounding. There’s a wide variety in uptempo and ballad tunes. Marcel Marceau lives up to its name with a lot of silent “holes” in the arrangement. As the album title suggests, the blues are the foundation for most of the tunes here. I dug the vibes of the closing, quite bluesy Sneaking Suspicion – the title is right on. The quintet has a really nice feel – direct, tasteful and never forgetting the primacy of melody which so many small groups seem to leave behind.
Tracklist: Phantom Dance, Alligator Strut, Wave, Slightly Off Course, Life & Times, Marcel Marceau, Blues for Now, Groundsurge, Hooking Up, Sneaking Suspicion.
– John Henry