On this thoroughly entertaining quintet session, twins Will and Peter Anderson team up with one of the most renowned and beloved siblings in jazz history, drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath, who turns 80 on May 31. No surprise, then, that the young reedmen sound as if they’re fully enjoying the cross-familial connection here, buoyed by Heath’s rhythmic joie de vivre. Of course, given the Andersons’ bop-rooted influences and Heath’s obvious compatibility, who would have expected anything less?
The title and opening cut, one of eight tunes penned by the Andersons for this outing, is emblematic of the album’s virtues. The frontline-Peter on tenor saxophone, Will on alto-introduces a vibrant, spiraling theme that soon gives way to a series of fluid turns from the reedmen and pianist Jeb Patton. All the while Heath is in delightful form, nimbly accenting, prodding and interjecting, before fashioning a crisply syncopated break. “Presque Vu,” the following performance, is more melodically stealthy, but again the saxes add colorful contrasts, and the rhythm section, fortified by bassist David Wong, is lifted by Heath’s always-salutary presence. “Belfast Blues,” its title notwithstanding, is actually a burner that also reveals the band’s cohesiveness and spirit. When Heath sits out on several cuts, drummer Phil Stewart prevents lulls from settling in, though he quietly enhances the mood during an insinuatingly lyrical, alto-limned performance of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.” Like “Lover Man” and “Rachel,” a woven ballad composed by Peter for his wife, it’s yet another reminder that when it comes to elegantly embellishing and resolving a romantic theme, the Andersons excel.