Blue Note Records
Drummer Bill Stewart's first outing for Blue Note, Snide Remarks, established his creds for building a sound around his very personal rhythmic conception: a bit off-center, given to melodies that springboard off an off-beat accent in delightful directions. He mines that vein further in the nine pieces here. His rhythm-mates, Larry Grenadier on bass and Bill Carrothers on piano, hold over, matching up this time with the two-sax front line of Steve Wilson (alto and soprano) and Seamus Blake (tenor). Stewart's seven compositions presented here run the gamut from M-base-tinged funk ("These Are They") to a thoughtful spacious Žtude ("Calm"). He tends toward the darker shades of the harmonic palette, and reveals both in swing and in contrasts-characteristics of the other two pieces, Monk's "Rhythm-a-ning" and Jackie McLean's "Little Melonae." There is a sense throughout these performances of an extended five-way conversation, to which we are privileged to listen in.