This Mark O’Connor is not the well-known violinist, but a Chicago tenor saxophonist with the same name. And a very good saxophonist he is. On Mirage, his debut album, O’Connor and an assortment of first-rate local colleagues offer an attractive program of straightahead, modern-mainstream compositions and improvisations worthy of anyone’s attention. O’Connor’s own tunes include a Horace Silver-like hard bop swinger, a lyrical bossa nova, a funky blues and a couple of fascinating contemporary numbers, all of which demonstrate the composer’s ability to craft melodically and rhythmically engaging lines. He also solos confidently in a versatile post-Coltrane hard-bop style. While he swings easily in a secure, fluid fashion, he can also handle a ballad with expressiveness and melodic sensitivity.
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