Bobby Watson and Stephen Martin romp through an affectionate interpretation of Benny Golson's standard "Stablemates" on the latter musician's new release High Plains. Bold and assured, the selection exemplifies the impeccable form of swing that's dominated Kansas City''s jazz scene in recent decades.
Watson is one of several members of an elite consortium of notable Kansas City musicians joining Martin on his second album. The saxophonist's vision is bolstered by Peter Schlamb (vibraphone and piano) and Ben Leifer (basses). Saxophonist Matt Otto produced High Plains and performs on one track. The Nebraska based drummer David Hawkins rounds out the group.
High Plains is suffused with Martin's devotion to John Coltrane. Thanks partly to Schlamb's wondrous invocation of McCoy Tyner, the band reaches Afro Blue Impressions-level intensity on "The Void." Martin and his stablemates are less clamorous on the remainder of the album. Mainstream jazz- in Kansas City or anywhere else- doesn't get much better than High Plains.