West Coast tenor David Sills presents an interesting mix of Hard Bop and Tristano-Konitz-Getz Cool on his latest CD. The presence of Alex Foster is most welcome?he brings his style remarkably in tune with Sills' vision and still sounds great in the process. In the arrangements the two saxes often play in tandem with the guitar on the head melodies, like on "Melon Head" and "Fontok." It adds a dimension and gives good contrast with the rhythm section, which generally stays in
the pocket with some style. "Melon Head"'s looping, post-boppish line in midtempo swing brings to mind Konitz and Marsh as does the concluding a cappella chorus with Sills and Foster counterpointing deftly. Sills' initial solo is strictly Hard Bop with Mobley coming to mind. Foster's alto sticks to the upper range, with a definite nod to Konitz and his sound. A
Latin six-eight with a piano-bass riff and a two sax and guitar melody distinguishes "Fontok." Koonse's guitar solo combines polish with
chops?line weaving in a post Benson, post Martino aesthetic. Sills' solo is in its own bag with some creative movement of lines, especially toward the end. "Prelude to a Kiss" gives Sills a lower-range workout that shows a Cool Getz feel. "Summer Cloud" has a somewhat pedestrian theme but Sills does some inventive soloing, though his tone here sounds a bit less
bright. The mid-up tempo Bossa "Green" is another rather pedestrian original but sparks some energetic playing from Koonse and Kanan.
"Sills Sails" goes forward with an up three-four and features Sills and Foster soloing and trading eights with some of their Coolest work on this disk. I should not be surprised given Foster's multi-stylistic musicality, but I don't believe I've heard him in such a bag before.
For some reason, the 7/8 original "Flat Days" is performed without drummer. It is an interesting number, and it seems a shame since the piece fairly screams for some well-played percussion touches. Good music, at any rate. The final "Desert Passes" sports an attractive theme underpinned by an interactive bass and piano motif. I am hopeful that Sills will continue to develop along the lines he sets down on Green. The writing has some dull moments and there are occasional lulls. It will appeal nonetheless to those looking for music that blows both cool and hot?and has the kernel of originality we like to see germinate.