JUDGING from its new self-titled album, the New Al Grey Quintet could just as well be dubbed the Young Al Grey Quintet. After all, not only does the trombonist and Count Basie alumnus sound as frisky as ever, he and fellow veteran drummer Bobby Durham are surrounded by a lot of young, pedigreed blood here. Grey's son, Mike, is on trombone; Joe Cohn, son of the late saxophonist Al Cohn, is on guitar and trumpet; and J. J. Wiggins, son of pianist Gerald Wiggins, is on bass.
By turns brash and bluesy, the album makes wonderful use of Grey's plunger trombone vocabulary. His phrasing is dotted with a seemingly endless assortment of slides, moans and groans -- colorful vocal effects that make the uptempo tunes all the more playful and ebullient, and the ballads all the more blue and languid.
The attention to tonal shading, in fact, is the album's greatest strength. While the rhythm section often swings admirably and the horns double up in combinations that bring a big band thrust to "Sonny's Tune" and other pieces, it's the individual voices of the ensemble that stand out most. Besides Grey's delightful idiosyncrasies (and his son's complementary performances on "Lester Leaps In" and other cuts), the album benefit from Wiggins's pensive reading of "Night and Day" and several arrangements that reveal Cohn's improvisational finesse.