Together for several years, One for All is a cooperative sextet of seasoned players (all good buddies) on the New York scene. On Upward and Onward, eight tunes are earmarked with effervescent solo and ensemble work from front-liners Eric Alexander (tenor sax), Jim Rotondi (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Steve Davis (trombone), and outstanding rhythm support from David Hazeltine (piano), Peter Washington (bass) and Joe Farnsworth (drums). Each musician brings his best to this provocative group and all but two contribute suitably arranged, harmonious originals. The gang keeps you engaged with venturesome, varicolored, hard-bop sprees full of swinging, soulful expressiveness. Highlights include Rotondi’s “D’s Blues,” an angular-sounding piece featuring tight ensemble work; Hazeltine’s joyous “We All Love Eddie Harris,” an 11-minute fling inspired by Harris’ “Freedom Dance;” and the swinging title tune brought fresh to the date by Davis. If you’ve admired solo recordings by some of these musicians, you owe it to your ears to investigate their rousing, combined efforts. They’ve recorded together previously for Sharp Nine under Eric Alexander’s leadership, but this exhilarating debut for Holland-based Criss Cross leaves you hoping they continue to meet for such exceptional sessions.
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