Formed in 1996, the hard-bop consortium One for All has been an ongoing concern three times as long as any edition of their legendary role model, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Familiarity has a way of breeding stagnation, but as this live recording demonstrates, the sextet continues squeezing fresh wrinkles into familiar cloth, with no loss of intensity.
Here, as on his many solo recordings, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander is both an explosive soloist (hear his surging, cluster-note attack on the original “Nemesis”) and a soulful shaper of the overall sound. Recorded in celebration of the 10th birthday of Vancouver’s Cellar club, Invades Vancouver! also features strong vehicles for and/or by trombonist Steve Davis, the chronically underrated trumpeter/flugelhornist Jim Rotondi, bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth.
For all the hard-hitting solos, the band’s real strength is in its cohesion, as demonstrated on Cedar Walton’s “Dear Ruth,” a languorous ballad given an elegant stroll, and pianist David Hazeltine’s “For Cedar,” an open arrangement that never loses its compositional shape. The recording climaxes with the Coltrane classic “Moment’s Notice,” which, as done to death as it has been, sounds convincingly in the moment.