Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
It takes a lot of audacity to dub oneself the "New York Jazz Quartet." After all, the Big Apple is full of jazz musicians, many of whom could lay claim to such a title.
But the ones who have it are pianist Sir Roland Hanna (he was knighted by the Liberian government), saxophonist Frank Wess, bassist George Mraz and drummer Richard Pratt. Appearing this week through Saturday at Blues Alley, the group offers a splendid summation of the best that's happened in modern jazz in the last generation - from Charlie Parker to John Coltrane.
Frosty - voiced singer Carol Solane, making a return appearance to Blues Alley, is appearing with the quartet.
Hanna and Wess are excellent soloists, both embodying a passionate lyricism on slow pieces and a heated flow of melodic ideas on up - tempo tunes. The pianist has a broad command of the keyboard, never neglecting to play interesting figures with his left hand.
One of the first to employ a major use of the flute in jazz, Wess played tenor and soprano saxophones as well as flute. He was particularly impressive in his gentle flute musings on a Latin - tinged piece.
Also interesting was drummer Pratt, who displayed a keen sense of rhythmic variety and color in the way he soloed on cymbals and an array of triangles. Bassist Mraz was a rock of strength throughout.
Solane's impeccable diction and sure phrasing were a joy to behold especiallly at a time when many singers have forgotten these qualities. She was cool and detached but also melodically explorative on "What's New." Her rendition of "In a Mountain Greenery" bounced with the ardor of a little girl skipping through a meadow.