Certain leftward-leaning jazz musicians occasionally play chord-based jazz as a way of breaking down the defenses of skeptics. It's a way of getting them to say, "Hey, he really knows what he's doing," at which point they might be more open to the free stuff. On Purple Violets, the venerable tenor saxophonist Sam Rivers shows us that, yes, not only is he a phenomenal free player, but he still has powerful straightahead chops, thank you very much.
Joined by bassist Ben Street, vibist Bryan Carrott and drummer Kresten Osgood, Rivers plays down his own medium-up swinger "Solace" and Ellington's "The Mooche" like the consummate jazz musician he is, showing that it is indeed possible to play tunes and still sound like no one but yourself, even in 2005. Osgood and Street are a good rhythm section, capable of playing in and out. Carrott is also a welcome presence. Rivers turns 82 in September, and there's still no better tenor player on the planet.