With the exception of Weill's perennial "My Ship" done in a nicely Latin groove, these are all Russ Nolan originals. They are dynamic and well-written. They give the band plenty to springboard off of and so they do. Russ has a not-too-derivatively influenced sound that combines Shorter, Trane, perhaps Liebman and those of that ilk, but very fluidly and distinctively Nolanesque in result. He solos with an assuredness, a fire and a maturity that is great to hear.
Mike Eckroth has important presence throughout, with a modern post-Tyner approach and lots of good swinging ideas. The rhythm section and percussionists give us lots of in-the-pocket pop-smack that makes everything groove.
It all heralds the arrival of Russ Nolan as a serious contender for the tenor-soprano middle ground in jazz. There is no rehashing or rote recreations so much as there is a complete mastery of a fired contemporary mainstream that has soul and sophistication in equal amounts--and some Afro-Latin grooving that's easy to appreciate.
This one is a winner!