Locke/Hazeltine Quartet: Mutual Admiration Society

Two chordal instruments get along just fine in the Locke/Hazeltine Quartet, as heard on their fine new one, Mutual Admiration Society (Sharp Nine). Joined by the solid, yet breathing rhythm foundation of drummer Billy Drummond and bassist Essiet Essiet, the pianist and vibist explore a set of tunes at once cool and heady, chock full of energetic improvisatory flights.

Locke’s original tunes, such as “The Haze Factor” and “Diamonds Remain,” are pensive, understated beauties, and they serve as ripe vehicles over which the players get their refined licks in. A samba-fied reading of “For All We Know” takes the set out on a note of cerebral cocktail hour repartee. They also present a hip, refreshing version of the great Bacharach tune “I Say a Little Prayer,” subjected to some cool reconstructive rhythmic and harmonic surgery, without losing an essential urbanity of feel.