April 2002

Rick Margitza
Palmetto Records

Memento is tasteful, swinging and immediately accessible. That could be the whole review right there, but so much preparation went into the making of Margitza's eighth album as a leader some details should be shared. First of all, Mulgrew Miller is on piano and that's saying a fistful. Scott Colley is on bass and Brian Blade is on drums.

Saxophonist Margitza is literally beside himself-overdubbing on soprano sax and on tenor-so that a Latin-flavored tune like "Witches" has a sax "section" riffing behind Miller's piano solo. It also sounds as if "Touch" has soprano and tenor in unison to help with a line punctuated by high staccato jabs, but the soprano is never clearly heard. Still, Margitza is a fine soloist, as evidenced by his wide-ranging, hard-swinging solo on "Blue for Lou."

Colley and Blade get so hyperactive on "Witches" they almost push Margitza outside. In the process they set the stage for a memorable Miller solo. "Unembraceable" turns out to be based on changes to "Embraceable You." No surprise. But a track entitled "My Truck Broke," which sounds like a bit of Dave Frishberg whimsy, turns out to be basic, 12-bar blues, with an angular line, featuring a flawless unison tenor-piano head. Now that's a surprise. "Points to Ponder" features the return of those high (soprano-tenor?) staccato points. As for the title track, that's one of the prettiest, yet saddest, tunes Margitza has ever written.

Originally published in April 2002
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