The Wishing Well
In this romping follow-up to Live at Small's (Double-Time), New York-based tenorist Tim Armacost broadens his palette to include inflections from Coltrane as well as Rollins. If one listens carefully, there also are echoes of the warm-toned tenor masters of the 1940s, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Gene Ammons. Indeed, Armacost is a modern romantic whose heart-on-sleeve declamations pulse with raw emotion.
As for Coltrane, Armacost's vibrant refurbishing of "Body and Soul" plays off harmonic and rhythmic contours first mapped by the tenor titan on Coltrane's Sound. There's also a bracing run-down of "Crescent" in which Armacost's fiery tenor explodes out of rhythmic infernos stoked by pianist Bruce Barth, bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Billy Hart. At the same time, one hears rhythmic displacements a la Rollins.
Armacost's originals also merit mention. "Sustenance" opens with a font of rubato cascades that coalesce into a sunny, up-tempo groove. "Black Sand Beach" is a brightly paced samba whose audacious harmonic skein stirs provocative solos from the leader as well as Barth and Hart. "Special Delivery" is an intimate ballad while the energizing title track struts with a raffishly, bop-tinged Latin gait.
Fusing inside and outside tendencies, Armacost's wonderful quartet, caught here in the midst of a European tour at the Theater de Tobbe in Voorburg, Holland, plays with passion and a discipline allowing for far-reaching freedoms.