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Michael Cochrane: Pathways

Michael Cochrane seems to be turning out combo recordings with increasing regularity for the Danish label Steeplechase, but he seems to have reached that plateau where he’s just spinning his wheels. His latest, Pathways, bears the same approach as its predecessor, Quartet Music: same sidemen, same format, same producer and most unfortunately, same lack of excitement. Cochrane has a pleasant touch and comps well behind his soloists, but he fails to light a spark in spite of choosing excellent material, such as seldom-heard tunes by Jobim, Michel Petrucciani and his own solidly constructed originals. But there are precious few arranged moments; it sounds like a tired weekend club gig. Best moments from everybody, including tenor saxophonist Bob Malach, bassist Calvin Hill and drummer Jeff Hirshfield, are heard on the leader’s harmonically complex “Visions.” As for the choice of opening tune, Ornette Coleman’s “When Will the Blues Leave”-so critical because many DJs judge a CD by the opening track-the approach is positively sluggish. Hirshfield could have phoned in his gap-filling.

Originally Published