This is Danish tenor saxophonist Christian Winther’s third SteepleChase album, a quintet date with trumpeter Marcus Printup, pianist Richard Doron Johnson, bassist Carlos Henriquez and drummer Ali Jackson. The music, all originals except Thelonious Monk’s “Green Chimneys,” swings in a supple manner and recalls the Blue Note Records era of the ’60s, albeit tinged with New Orleans, Winther’s adopted home. The saxophonist’s playing, rhythmic and fluid, has a softer tonal side reminiscent of Hank Mobley (for example, on Jackson’s “For Kenny”).
Winther has learned the rhythmic lessons of New Orleans well, as his agile, blues-rooted playing on the Monk tune and Johnson’s “Ferris Wheel” shows. Printup is in fine form throughout—always tasteful, always appropriate for the tune at hand and always articulate. The rhythm section is well matched to the horns. But despite such effective music, Winther faces a common challenge: With so much jazz rooted in that old-school Blue Note vibe these days, one wonders how rising players will distinguish themselves.