Andy Scherrer Quartet: Second Step

Tenor saxophonist Andy Scherrer hails from Switzerland, but there is nothing of the sterile modern in his approach to music. He lists Coltrane, Shorter and Henderson among his influences, with his sound favoring the first two. This, his auspicious debut recording as a leader, comes to us as he enters his fourth decade as a professional. The empathic quartet setting he has brought together features William Evans on piano, Isla Eckinger on bass and Dre Pallemaerts on drums. Though not well known stateside, this group swings hard, making the most of its opportunities here. Scherrer has strong modal inclinations and an approach to composition clearly influenced by Wayne Shorter. His “Tuberiferous” recalls Shorter’s Blue Note years with its economical, intriguing theme, while “Second Step” seems almost an homage to “Seven Steps to Heaven” and provides Pallemaerts the space for a well-developed solo. Given the chance, he happily veers outside, recalling Coltrane in the bold rubato that opens Stephen Kurmann’s “Songman.” Kirk Lightsey’s “Habiba” is a challenging composition, with an appeal that belies its intricacies. The entire band plays well throughout, with Pallemaerts, Evans and Scherrer all turning in outstanding solos.