Donald Harrison: Heroes

Donald Harrison has a few things in common with Greg Osby: they’re the same age, both came on the scene about the same time and, of course, they both play alto. Stylistically, however, the difference between them is basic. Osby is a nervously aggressive player, while Harrison is, at his best, calmly methodical. On Heroes (Nagel-Heyer) Harrison fronts a trio comprised of bassist Ron Carter and drummer Billy Cobham.

Those who know Cobham primarily as a ’70s-era jazz-funkster are in for a surprise; he’s a tasty, reactive, hard swinging straightahead drummer on Heroes. Carter is his usual self: he walks a great bass line, but his soloing is dull. As for the leader, tunes emphasizing moderate tempos (the Harrison-penned title track and Carter’s “Receipt Please,” for example) show off his talents as an intelligent melodist. Not dynamic, but compelling within a narrow emotional compass. Three “bonus tracks” with a different, overly excitable rhythm section end the CD. Better are those with Cobham and Carter. They may not generate as much heat, but they show Harrison in a better light.