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Pat Kelley: In the Moment

Since Pat Kelley’s operating the Artsong label, In the Moment is unburdened by label politics or consultant interference. Kelley not only produced and recorded this date, he’s written and arranged every number except the group’s tremendous rendition of the Jule Styne-Sammy Cahn anthem “It’s You or No One.” The pieces “Jungle Highway” and “Rapid Transit” reveal a gifted, thoughtful player whose solos nicely balance delicacy and energy. His playing is buttressed by the spirited tenor and lighter, more lyrical soprano sax solos of Andy Suzuki. The group shifts into soul-jazz territory on occasion, aided by the booming accompaniment of organist Rob Whitlock. Bassist Ernest Tibbs is alternately funky and nimble, while drummer John Ferraro’s rhythmic vitality nicely underscores every selection. The longer selections present the group’s full musical arsenal more completely than shorter pieces like “It’s You,” which seems to end rather abruptly, or “Lover’s Waltz” which concludes just as the band’s about to gel. Kelley also sometimes cuts his solos short, as though he’s afraid of hogging the spotlight. That’s unnecessary, because his solos aren’t cliched or tepid. But these are only minor flaws; there’s far more to like than dismiss on In the Moment, a disc featuring a band that I’m sure sounds even better live.

Originally Published