Frank Catalano: Live at the Green Mill

Live at the Green Mill features over an hour of high-energy blowing, spread out over just five tunes. It means these guys have a lot to say on each song and fortunately producer Bob Koester let them stretch out. Wise decision, considering the quintet was up for the live occasion, plus the fact that the front line of tenorist Frank Catalano and trumpeter Randy Brecker had a great deal to talk about-especially to each other. Some of the finest moments can be heard as they trade choruses on “Softly As in a Morning Sunrise,” “Killer Joe,” “Impressions” and even that well-worn set closer “The Theme.”

The conversation is even more fascinating when you realize Catalano is in his very early 20s; Brecker just passed his mid-50s. What you’re overhearing is tantamount to a discussion between father and son on the state of hard bop. Keeping those conversations going is a powerhouse rhythm section: pianist Larry Novak, bassist Eric Hochberg and drummer Paul Wertico.

Catalano and Brecker are so compatible it’s impossible to distinguish between who is the elder and who is the youngin’. Catalano is a rapidly rising monster on tenor who can think fast on his feet, and he reveals roots that stretch from Coleman Hawkins to John Coltrane. This is his fourth album-the first in a live context-and apparently nothing can intimidate him. When he finds his own voice and style, nothing will stop him.