Rick Margitza: Heart of Hearts

The former late-’80s associate of Miles Davis returns with his seventh album as a leader, and first since 1997’s Game of Chance (Challenge). Margitza has an unabashedly romantic streak, which he grants full reign on this quartet recording featuring pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Ian Froman.

While dipping into an expressive Coltrane bag for the nine-minute “Father John,” for the most part Margitza approaches this collection of five originals plus five others like a latter-day Stan Getz. His timbre is warm, his lines flowing, but his intonation (“sharply edged” in the euphemistic words of the accompanying press bio) is an acquired taste. His grasp of harmony and the rapid-fire creativity that so attracted Miles are showcased to good effect on the uptempo Chick Corea tune “You’re Everything.”

For a tenor saxophonist to make an album like this is to invite comparison with the romantic giants of the instrument: Getz, Webster, Gonsalves, Gordon. It is within this comparison that Margitza’s take on romance seems a bit stale after a while. Margitza blows as if to entertain young lovers, but the wine is ordinary, and the flowers could stand rearranging. Fans will appreciate the scrapbook-style CD gatefold, which contains many childhood and family photos.