Ari Ambrose: United

Thought has clearly gone into United (Steeplechase), a pianoless date. This one is a trio outing by the young tenor saxophonist Ari Ambrose. Flanked and ably supported by bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Jeff Williams, Ambrose explores a program of well-chosen covers: among them, an engaging tour of the Frank Rosolino waltz “Blue Daniel,” an abstractly funky take on Stevie Wonder’s “How Can You Believe” and a swift reading of “Mr. Day.” Ambrose’s tone is less burnished than brushed, and he shows a fondness for the classic; he revisits Monk’s “Four and One” not via the harmonic extrapolations of a Coltrane clone but with an endearing gruffness more reminiscent of Johnny Griffin. It’s not clear what signpost United marks in Ambrose’s burgeoning creative career (it may well have changed since this recording date of late 2000). One hopes that his is a still-active evolution.