The band is Cecilia Coleman on piano, David Smith on trumpet, Adam Kolker on tenor saxophone, Tim Givens on bass and Jeff Brillinger on drums. Not a household name among them. The instrumentation is common. So is the art form: latter-day post-Blue Note bop.
In the right hands, it is an art form whose capacity for self-renewal is unlimited. Cecilia Coleman is an honest, intelligent pianist, an accomplished composer and an intuitive ensemble conceptualist. One of her structural ideas for Images is simple but effective. She introduces her originals with short piano versions of standards. “You Are My Sunshine,” somber as a hymn, is released into “Free,” a throbbing contrapuntal waltz. Her “Blue and Gold” is a brooding but logical extension of Irving Berlin’s lead-in, “What’ll I Do.” Adam Kolker and Coleman take subtle, soft, circling solos. Kolker is also indirect and sinuous yet highly effective on “The Dance,” which is set up by the sweet romanticism of Michel Legrand’s “I Will Wait for You.”
Coleman’s revelation of relationships between known motifs and original material is just one example of the creative connections that give this music its sense of continuum. Images is a single sustained musical statement and a high-quality project whose attention to detail includes excellent recorded sound by Rudy Van Gelder.