Artist: Dave O’Higgins Trio + Max Ionata
Album: Tenors of Our Time
Genre: Contemporary Jazz, Post-Bop
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Song for Cape Town
The Eternal Triangle
The Enigma of the Day
Tenors Of Our Time was recorded on 14 May 2018 “live” with all the musicians in the same room and no headphones. Leader, tenorist Dave O’Higgins may have originally taken as a template for this album the team-up of Sonny Stitt and Sonny Rollins on the 1959 album Sonny Side Up (Verve) from where Stitt’s boppy track “The Eternal Triangle” is gleaned. But this particular tenor saxophone pairing emanated from the Rochester Jazz Festival in New York when O’Higgins played his set with Italian drummer Luca Santaniello. From there it seemed a natural extension to record with Santaniello and his fellow countryman, the tenor saxophonist Max Ionata. The quartet was completed with the addition of British organist supremo Ross Stanley.
From the very opening, the memorable “Fourplay” signposts that this is a very classy hard bop set comprising mostly originals with a couple of exceptions. There’s Stitt’s number of course and Gorni Kramer’s bossa nova “Donna” is given an irresistible makeover. O’Higgins’ compositional ability is equal to his muscular playing as evidenced by numbers such as “Song For Cape Town,” “The Enigma Of The Day” or the slinky, spiralling “You’re Nicked” which all benefit from ineluctable heads. Ionata’s two tunes, the relaxed “Rainy Day” and the hauntingly themed “Satosong” are excellent too.
Whether it’s in the individual solos or when the two saxophonists play in unison or harmony the tracks all swing like crazy. Plus Stanley’s biting- toned Hammond organ contributions are positively smoking, proving right now he’s probably the best jazz organist in Britain. Additionally, Santanillo demonstrates that he’s not merely a timekeeper but rather that he’s a powerhouse drummer who motors the whole album along with deftness and subtle precision. Whilst the ten compositions here are not of a ground-breaking nature (nor are they intended to be), the unifying factor is one of a strong, hummable melody which, sadly, seems to be something of an overlooked quality in jazz these days.
By ROGER FARBEY