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Wally Schnalle: That Place

Although there’s no information about drummer-composer Wally Schnalle and his fiery quartet in the booklet accompanying this impressive date, let it be said that Schnalle’s foursome is awesome. On the attention-getting opener, “The Corner,” for example, there’s a catchy frame with alternating hip-hop and post-bop sections which, in turn, percolate and purr. With the edgy saxes of Charles McNeal out front, the kaleidoscopic rhythms of Jeff Pittson, bassist Rob Fisher and time-master Schnalle groove with grit and grace.

McNeal is ablaze throughout. With his exuberant annealing of elements from Ornette, Cannonball and even David Sanborn, his is a voice, whether on alto or tenor, that commands attention. So, too, pianist Pittson, who segues smoothly from bluesy forays a la Gene Harris to thunderous Tynerish swirls and dazzling pointillistic abstractions. Fisher’s robust bass is a Rock of Gibraltar. At center, stirring the cauldron, is Schnalle, whose lithe, live pulse moves and motivates all. Also of note are the leader’s first-rate originals.

Originally Published