Rick Margitza: Memento

Memento is tasteful, swinging and immediately accessible. That could be the whole review right there, but so much preparation went into the making of Margitza’s eighth album as a leader some details should be shared. First of all, Mulgrew Miller is on piano and that’s saying a fistful. Scott Colley is on bass and Brian Blade is on drums.

Saxophonist Margitza is literally beside himself-overdubbing on soprano sax and on tenor-so that a Latin-flavored tune like “Witches” has a sax “section” riffing behind Miller’s piano solo. It also sounds as if “Touch” has soprano and tenor in unison to help with a line punctuated by high staccato jabs, but the soprano is never clearly heard. Still, Margitza is a fine soloist, as evidenced by his wide-ranging, hard-swinging solo on “Blue for Lou.”

Colley and Blade get so hyperactive on “Witches” they almost push Margitza outside. In the process they set the stage for a memorable Miller solo. “Unembraceable” turns out to be based on changes to “Embraceable You.” No surprise. But a track entitled “My Truck Broke,” which sounds like a bit of Dave Frishberg whimsy, turns out to be basic, 12-bar blues, with an angular line, featuring a flawless unison tenor-piano head. Now that’s a surprise. “Points to Ponder” features the return of those high (soprano-tenor?) staccato points. As for the title track, that’s one of the prettiest, yet saddest, tunes Margitza has ever written.