For the first minute and a half of saxist Adam Kolker’s calmly brilliant new album, the sound we hear is his probing, playful and relaxed horn by its lonesome. Enter the band, and not just any band: Drummer Paul Motian gently folds in his unique and slippery sense of time and color, and guitarist John Abercrombie goes on one of his signature search-and-deploy solos, while bassist John Hebert rumbles and grounds in the right degrees. On this Ornette-ish track, “gNash,” Kolker has us engaged from the outset, and proceeds to demonstrate variety, range, fire and poetry over the course of eight tracks, from evocative originals to a fresh take on Neil Young’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” and a rubbery read on the standard “Last Night When We Were Young.”
Overall, Kolker—a strong but subtle player—is in no hurry to dazzle on this date, and thus he does. Noted as a great team player in various bands over the years, Kolker at mid-career has made the kind of musical statement which should nudge him deeper into the ranks of saxist-leaders worth following closely. The session, all recorded on one day (Flag Day, hence the title), also exemplifies the magic of an inspired session with nicely matched, empathetic players on their game.