Jerry Steinhilber: Chicago Trio, New York Tenor
Jazz fans who stay away from sessions led by drummers by fear of subjecting themselves to a drums solo overload should not miss out on "Chicago Trio, New York Tenor", Jerry Steinhilber's secong opus. For this recording, which features one standard and original compositions by George Garzone and himself, Jerry Steinhilber put together a solid trio to back a criminally ignored musician: saxophonist George Garzone—Steinhilber's mentor and former teacher whose relationship goes back to the days he was studying at Boston's Berklee School of Music.
Jerry Steinhilber picked bassist Larry Kohut and pianist Jim Trompeter for his trio because of the special cohesiveness they have developed through the years playing in various local combos. Needless to say that it shows considering that all but one of the tunes was a first take. Moreover, the addition of George Garzone, whose fluid and sinuous lines are a delight from start to finish, never breaks the chemistry, on the contrary. In fact, one of the inner qualities of this session is the constant flow of ideas the musicians feed each other and how quickly they respond to them. Trompeter and Garzone are two musicians who have wonderful melodic and harmonic ideas and complement each other ideally (check Steinhilber's oblique "Blue Note Maki"). As for Larry Kohut, his contributions go far beyond time-keeping.
Interestingly enough, Jerry Steinhilber has always been drawn to saxophonists. While composing the beautifully crafted tone poem "For All Children", he was in search of John Coltrane's spirituality. This piece is also the occasion for him to display his talents as a colorist and to prove what a sensitive drummer he is. Most of the other tracks feature him as a hard swinging machine with an impressive drive.
All the compositions are rewarding but, besides the two aforementioned pieces, I would single out Garzone's "Head Now" and Steinhilber's jumpy "Bad Billy Boy" which are not without recalling some of the best of the '60s Blue Note sessions. After listening to "Chicago Trio, New York Tenor", it should not come as a surprise that Jerry Steinhilber's music landed on such a prestigious label as Soul Note.—Alain Drouot
Available on Soul Note, widely distributed in Chicago stores or visit www.jerrysteinhilber.com.