Stan Getz is tenor saxophonist Mark Colby’s stylistic model, and on previous recordings his debt to Getz has been obvious. It’s not a bad model—everyone doesn’t have to sound like Coltrane—especially when you, like Colby, have a strong lyrical bent and can inhabit a ballad like Johnny Mandel’s “Close Enough for Love” or Cole Porter’s “So in Love” as convincingly as Colby does here. But he also tries to change things up a bit, so the quartet with piano-bass-drums so favored by Getz shares space with a piano-less trio and quartet (with guitar).
The trio especially brings out a different side of Colby: more percussive with a harder tone on an original blues; more rhythmically playful, almost Sonny Rollins-like, on a teasing version of “Like Someone in Love”; and more open emotionally on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The two tracks with guitarist Mike Pinto are a study in contrasts: “Desafinado” conjures Getz but with a loosey-goosey rhythmic vibe far from the original bossa nova, while Ornette Coleman’s “Blues Connotation” has Colby reaching toward a harmolodic sound and Pinto channeling a Theremin.
Colby’s originals range from the fetching ballad title tune to that trio blues and “Caroline’s Romp,” a throwback to the kind of infectious jump tune that swing veterans loved to jam on. The last track features a sextet doing a Phil Woods romper, with the composer as guest. While no innovator, Colby ranks among those musicians who keep jazz honorably going as a living art form.