For those who love straight-ahead modern jazz, the Harold Land-Blue Mitchell Quintet appearing this week through Saturday at Blues Alley is offering a joyful experience.
Making their first East Coast appearance this trip as co-leaders (they Jazz Society in Baltimore), tenor saxophonist Land and truumpeter Mitchell play together with remarkable cohesion.Even more uncommon is the unity they have achieved with a local rhythm section (pianist Marc Chen, bassist steve Novosel and drummer Benard Sweetney).
Land and Mitchell have co-led a group for two years, but most of their appearance have been on the West Coast, which both men live.
Their muscial styles are highly complementary. Land plays with a gainy tone and employs a calm. Undhurried rhythmic approach that makes him sound serene when he's spitting out torrents of notes.
On the other hand. Mitchell's fat, lustrous tone crackles with the strength of a swarm of locusts. On uptempo pieces, he skips, swaggers and lopes through solos, filling them with plenty of glistening grace notes and stacatto triplets.
They were both in fine fettle on "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes." a familiar sanguine melody which they transformed into molten lava, particularly their exchanges at the piece's conclusion. Also appealing was Mitchell's rendition of "A Portrait of Jenny," which spotlighted his excellent talent for making melodic variation.