Alto saxophonist Richie Cole, a D.C. institution in the 1970s, has been all over the world since he last played here three years ago at the One Step Down. On that same bandstand last night he demonstrated with zeal and passion that, while he may have left this area still under the stylistic wing of Charlie Parker, he has taken flight on his own as a mature jazz artist, a player of decided individuality and a mini-tornado on his horn.
Number after number in the first set, from the opening "Four Brothers" to the closing "Steamer," showed his fondness for the fast lane. When he dropped to medium tempo with "Boplicity" it was, comparatively, a freeze-frame in which to examine his attack, a complex of melodic statements, fragments thereof and all manner of asides that partook of the sonorities of human speech.
Cole was in the company of three young musicians who not only gave him strong support at the killer pace he mostly maintained but acquitted themselves with honor in statements of their own. Drummer Victor Jones frequently was right on top of the leader's line, note for note, accent for accent. On an extended piano feature Steve Kramer went up a number of avenues of the jazz tradition and claimed them all as his own. Boots Malison was on the upright bass.
The quartet will play again this evening.