As the title suggests, Richard Sussman?s album is a study in endurance. By reuniting with some of the players who appeared on his 1978 debut Free Fall and presenting a diverse roster of new tunes, Sussman underscores how true musicality is never diminished by the passage of time.
In other words, the ol? fellas still have it. Tenor man Jerry Bergonzi steps in straight from the woodshed on the Jazz Messengers-inflected ?Spare Change? and his enthusiastic, harmonically challenging style enhances the uptempo ?Crossroads? and the ballad ?Theme For Ernie?. Randy Brecker plays trumpet and flugelhorn (Tom Harrell appeared on Free Fall), giving his honey-smooth tonality and high-octane upper register flights to ?Meridian? and the standard ?Alone Together?, whose inclusion on this album deepens the theme of endurance. Bassist Mike Richmond is a rock on the bottom and his singing pizzicato on the waltz ?It?s Never Too Late? is one of the highlights. Guitarist Mike Stern makes a guest appearance on ?Mike?s Blues?, a fusion trip that Sussman wrote specifically for him. Stern?s fervid riffs blaze a path for Sussman?s retro-futuristic synthesizer on a tune that manages to sound old school and contemporary simultaneously.
Sussman?s excellent composing and playing is the driving force at the center of Continuum. Whether weaving a tender meditation like ?The Wayfarer?, comping with Richmond and drummer Jeff Williams, doubling up wonderfully on piano and synthesizer or building a solo whose intricacy seems to reflect his kinetic energy, Sussman mines countless riches from the keyboard. All of this great music, reflective but unburdened with misty-eyed sentimentality and played by some of the best in the business, is what makes Continuum an excellent album.