Mike Melito Quintet: The Next Step (2005)
Drummer and bandleader Mike Melito makes it clear in his liner notes that the music on this album is dedicated to the spirit of Blue Note Records during the 1950s. And he succeeds admirably. For his third album, Melito has assembled a fine quintet featuring trumpeter Joe Magnarelli and tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart, both of whom have multiple releases on Criss Cross Records, plus pianist Dino Losito and bassist Neal Miner.
In order to substantiate his intentions of providing that authentic '50s Blue Note ambiance, Melito crossreferences the non-original tunes to specific sessions from the erafor example, the Fields/McHugh standard "Don't Blame Me" was borrowed from Jackie McLean's Capuchin Swing album.
Regardless of the origin of the material, the pieces of the finished product fit together quite nicely. The contributions from Losita (the opening title tune), Magnarelli (a bossa "Bella Carolina"), and Miner (the closing "Blues For Red and Green") are solid and fit well with the tunes that came out of the New York hard bop school of the 1950s and '60s. The aforementioned "Don't Blame Me" is a feature for Grant Stewart, who reveals a significant mix of a muscular yet melodic tenor playing, with more than a little Hank Mobley in mind.
Stewart and Melito also get to shine on Dexter Gordon's "I Want More," which was introduced on 1961's Dexter Calling. Pianist Dino Losito provides the right touch on his punchy solos and support and Neal Miner's bass is solid. Leader Mike Melito also is featured throughout the album with crisp percussion. In concluding this tribute to an era, two standards, "I Wish I Knew" and "You Don't Know What Love Is," both normally performed as ballads, are given a very Art Blakey-ish up-tempo treatment with all horns blazing.
Track Listing: The Next Step; Don't Blame Me; Bella Carolina; I Want More; Smoke Gets In Your Eyes; I Wish I Knew; You Don't Know What Love Is; Blues for Red and Brown.
Personnel: Mike Melito: drums; Grant Stewart: tenor sax; Joe Magnarelli: trumpet; Dino Losito: piano; Neal Miner: bass.
Record Label: Weebop