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Jim Rotondi: The Pleasure Dome

Jim Rotondi has recorded five dates for Criss Cross since 1997. The Pleasure Dome is his second Sharp Nine outing, following 2001’s Destination Up, which packed the double punch of Joe Locke and Mulgrew Miller. The new album, as good as it is, provides fewer thrills. Rotondi recruits Jesse Davis on alto, David Hazeltine on piano, the great Ray Drummond on bass and the ubiquitous Joe Farnsworth on drums. A clean and compelling player with a flair for hard-bop classicism, Rotondi paces the set nicely, starting off with a pair of swinging originals and a midtempo reading of “The Breeze and I.” He is sure-footed and expressive on his ballad feature “My Ideal.” Billy Taylor’s “A Bientot,” recently mined by Benny Green and Russell Malone, gets a mellow straight-eighth treatment. The last third of the program is the most rewarding. “Yours Is My Heart Alone” reveals especially strong communication between Rotondi and Hazeltine. Then Joe Henderson’s soul-jazzy “Mamacita” and Donald Byrd’s 16-bar “Hush” close the set with two contrasting views of the blues.

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