Years ago when alto saxophonist Gary Bartz was first establishing himself in jazz, it wasn't uncommon to hear his name linked with jazz greats from an earlier era, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane among others. Bartz's trendy pop-jazz recordings may have all but obscured those ties lately, but last night at the Ibex club much of the old fire returned.
This week Bartz is working with bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Rashied Ali, who, like Bartz, often lead their own groups. Together they forged a powerful ad hoc trio well versed in bop and post-bop traditions.
Bartz's interpretive sensitivity was best heard on "I Can't Get Started," a particularly apt ballad (the set began an hour late), which he shaded in warm and pensive tones. Other standards such as "Dig P.C." and Parker's "Confirmation," though, were more in keeping with Bartz's sharply angular patterns, frequent runs through the scales that created considerable heat and momentum.
Each piece was blessed with wonderfully expressive solos from Workman, his bass delivering an eccentric commentary of vocal and percussive effects. Ali's support was discreet for the most part, though he did contribute a colorful solo to "Now's the Time."
The trio appears at the Ibex through Saturday.