It’s been over three decades since a young Richie Cole brought his Phil Woods-style alto to the Buddy Rich band. Since that time, Cole has progressively made his name as a virtuosic follower of Charlie Parker via Woods, recording more than two dozen albums of his own. His last recording of new music was released in 1997, but Back on Top shows Cole to still be in fine form. It features not only his still-bopping alto but also his arrangements of originals and a pair of standards scored for a septet that sounds at times a lot like a big band (Cole’s stated goal) and at other times a bit like a 1950s West Coast ensemble. Either way, the band achieves a nice sound, and the players do a very good job of executing the often difficult charts.
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