Richard Sussman

Live at Sweet Rhythm

origin 82563

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MUSIC REVIEW BY Brad Walseth, JazzChicago.net

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Pianist Sussman was a young player on the NYC loft scene back in the late '70s when he gathered a few of his friends together and made a record. The result was Free Fall, a record that received critical acclaim, but without the financial reward to enable Sussman to keep the band together. The keyboard player ended up teaching at the Manhattan School of Music, writing music for television, work with Hank Jones and even touring with Blood Sweat & Tears and Donna Summer, Meanwhile, over the years Free Fall achieved cult classic status, so when the album was to be re-released on CD in 2003, Sussman decided to try to get all of the original members back together for a reunion gig. With only tenor saxophonist Larry Schnieder unable to make it, original members Tom Harrell on trumpet, Jerry Bergonzi on tenor sax, Mike Richmond on bass and Jeff Williams on drums convened with Sussman for two nights at New York City's Sweet Rhythm nightclub to record an exciting release that features three Free Fall compositions performed live, along with Tadd Dameron's "Soultrane" and the standard "What's New." Of the original band, Harrell has gone on to become of the most acclaimed trumpeters of his generation, while Bergonzi has combined a stellar recording career with one in academia. Richmond and Williams, meanwhile both have continued working worldwide as sidemen. In any case, these fine players sound inspired to be playing together. The band opens with a strong new original from Sussman - "Waiting" - which demonstrates the pianists ability to write songs that showcase the talents of his band mates to the fullest. This hard post bopping tune also showcases Sussman's tasty work on the keys. Bergonzi has been oft compared to Coltrane, and he shows why with his intelligent and fiery playing. Harrell, meanwhile shreds on his trumpet, while Williams adds an explosive drum solo. The jaunty original "Mary's Song" follows and pleases with its joyous sound, while "Soultrane" gives the band a chance to slow it down and get bluesy as Bergonzi channels the great Trane. The colorful uptempo "Tiahuanaco" is a highlight of great writing and playing, while "What's New" has Harrell on fire on some outrageous trumpet forays. "Lady of the Lake" showcases Sussman's compositional skills, and the album ends with the 15:36 "Free Fall" where everyone gets into the act with some free form wailing. Great to hear this exciting group back in action.






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