Airbop is the third album as a leader for Italian-born Berklee alumna Ada Rovatti, who's currently active on the New York jazz scene. It's no surprise that she would be in demand, since her recordings show her to be a top-notch saxophonist and an excellent composer. Although Rovatti's virtuosic technique, husky sound and post-Coltrane conception suggest the familiar Michael Brecker/Bob Mintzer school of tenor playing, her phrases are rarely the common ones many players fall back on. Except for the standard "My Shining Hour," the contemporary-sounding compositions are all hers, and they too avoid triteness even as they are appealing and accessible.
The excellent rhythm section consists of pianist Dave Kikoski (Jill McCarron substituting on one track), bassist Ed Howard and drummer Ben Perowsky. Special guests on various tracks are Rovatti's husband Randy Brecker on trumpet or flugelhorn, Mintzer on bass clarinet, Adam Rogers on guitar and Don Alias on percussion. The moods range from the wistful introspection of "What We Miss" to the straightahead, hard-charging bop of "One Dollar and 20 Cents." Brecker's flugelhorn is especially lyrical and expressive on "Shelter Island."