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Bill McHenry Quintet : Sonic Pressure

Recorded in 2005 at New York’s Fat Cat Jazz Club, this is not your typical live-album-as-blowing-session. The crowd was small but attentive, judging from the smattering of respectful applause on the CD. The club, which seats several dozen, and the audience seem appropriate for tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry, whose approach to jazz is thoughtful, measured and introverted.

His quintet really meshes here. It’s not clear whether the album was recorded in one night or over the course of several, but everything gels. The disc begins with a mellow modal piece called “Night Owl” that is obviously influenced by Kind of Blue (then again, what isn’t?). McHenry’s sax is strong and confident, but it’s also restrained and relaxed. Coupled with Duane Eubanks’ bare, muted trumpet and the unhurried rhythm section of pianist Pete Rende, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Jeff Williams, the tune recalls the storied triumvirate of Miles, Coltrane and Bill Evans.

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