Steve Smith and Buddy’s Buddies: Steve Smith and Buddy’s Buddies

Buddy’s Buddies boasts tenor and soprano saxophonist Steve Marcus, alto saxophonist Andy Fusco, pianist and arranger Lee Musiker, and six-string electric bassist Anthony Jackson-a powerhouse unit, especially when driven by Smith’s Buddy Rich-like drumming. Several of the charts are adaptations of Rich’s big band arrangements. The opening “Nutville” sets the energetic pace of the album with brash, swirling, uptempo playing by everyone. Marcus, on soprano, uncorks a superb Coltrane-fueled arabesque on “Norwegian Wood.” His passionate, slightly hoarse tenor work on “How Do You Keep the Music Playing” is also a gas. The medium tempo “New Blues” catches Musiker in sparkling, rhythmic form and Fusco in a supple boppish, chops-laden outing. The group’s take on burners such as Coltrane’s “Moment’s Notice” and Sammy Nestico’s “Ya Gotta Try” serve notice that the technical and emotional lessons learned from Rich remain strongly motivational. This one will blow you away.