The Richard Sussman Quintet: Free Fall (2002)
Originally released on “Inner City Records” in 1978, this reissue sounds as fresh and cutting-edge as just about anything that resembles contemporary mainstream/progressive jazz! Pianist, Richard Sussman sports a very impressive resume; evidenced by his work with “Blood, Sweat & Tears,” Buddy Rich, pop vocalist, Carly Simon, and others. Besides, he also composed a portion to the classic film, “Midnight Cowboy”. Here, the pianist enlists the tight rhythm section of bassist, Mike Richmond and drummer, Jeff Williams. However, we also get to hear the nascent talents of trumpeter, Tom Harrell, and tenor saxophonists, Larry Schneider and Jerry Bergonzi on this altogether radiantly recorded production.
Marked by Sussman’s craftily fabricated compositions and arrangements, this ensemble melds punchy horn charts with sweet melodies and buoyantly swinging rhythms witnessed on the opener, “Lady Of The Lake.” Whereas, on “Free Fall,” Williams sets the stage with a sweeping groove followed by Harrell’s blistering trumpet solo, while Schneider joins the trumpeter for heated, Bop-like choruses. Yet, the soloists alter the often-torrid flow via pert moments of free-jazz style intensity, although Sussman energizes the band into newfound territory thanks to his swirling arpeggios and fluid two-handed attack. The pianist also provides an intro to “Street Fair,” as the band subsequently kicks in a bustling groove, enhanced by Schneider (performing on flute) and Harrell’s softly stated choruses amid a rather jovial climate. Furthermore, the musicians commingle a straight four-rock pulse with Sussman’s understated R&B voicings and a simmering swing vamp on the closer, “Tiahuanaco.” Folks, small ensemble jazz doesn’t get much finer than this! Strongly recommended.
Track Listing: 1.Lady Of The Lake 2.Free Fall 3.The River 4.Street Fair 5.Dance Of The Spheroids 6.Colors 7.Tiahuanaco
Personnel: Tom Harrell: trumpet & flugelhorn
Record Label: Double-Time Jazz