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Ted Rosenthal Quintet: Expressions

All Ted Rosenthal did was win the second annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, and here he is with his seventh CD as leader: Expressions (Jazz ‘N Pulz). He also toured for more than three years with the last Gerry Mulligan quartet, recorded a live solo CD at Maybeck, premiered his own piano concerto with the Rockland Symphony Orchestra, and now teaches at the Manhattan School of Music. Somehow it all shows on Expressions. The writing and playing exude a confidence that guarantees he can execute any lick he writes or hears-and it will swing. Rosenthal’s poise rubs off on his four colleagues: Dick Oatts, alto and soprano sax; Brian Lynch, trumpet; Johannes Weidenmüller, bass; John Riley, drums. “True Blue” boasts an expanded trill figure that descends like water swirling down a sink with superb laid-back control. Rosenthal’s title tune is a contemplative melody for piano and soprano sax, heightened by Rosenthal’s obbligato weaving throughout Oatts’ pensive statement. “Bar Hopping” begins like a film running fast-forward until it finds a comfortable, way-up groove. The whole album is like this: high-powered soloing, excellent charts. There’s even room for humor: the spirals of “True Blue” are reprised and “Monk’s Dream” is envisioned in 7/8-even the stride coda.

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