Many musicians used the pandemic to create new work, to hone new skills, and to find new ways to express themselves in a most uncomfortable. It's possible Scott Reeves (valve trombone, alto flugelhorn, electronics) did all those things but he also went through his archives. When he did, Reeves listened with fresh ears to a 2005 live gig he recorded at City of College of New York with Russ Spiegel (guitar), Mike Holober (piano, electric piano), Howard Britz (bass), and Andy Watson (drums). Now, pleased by the overall quality of the musicianship and sound, the musician/ composer passed the tapes on to his label, Origin Records, and they released the album as "The Alchemist". The music does not at all sound dated -- in fact, the music feels fresh and often exciting. One can hear a link from several pieces to the music Miles Davis created for "Nefertiti" and "Filles de Kilimanjaro".
The Davis influence is evident on the opener, "New Bamboo". The ringing tones of the Fender Rhodes mixed with the electronically altered trombone also hearkens back to Herbie Hancock's later Blue Note recordings. Reeves switches to alto flugelhorn, Holober to acoustic piano, for "Shapeshifter", a medium tempo flowing piece that includes a potent drum solo. "Without a Trace" is a lovely ballad with a soft melody played by guitar and trombone. The leader's solo is wistful, as if you can hear him ruminating about a person who has gone. Spiegel produces a handsome solo but pay attention to howe Holober, on acoustic piano, responds. Britz, who is also an accomplished pianist, plays a short yet melodic solo. "Remembrances" is another fine ballad with fine solos from Reeves (flugelhorn), Spiegel, and Holober. "The title track grooves atop the percolating electric piano and the raucous drums. Trombone and guitar play the head that opens to Holober's playful solo and a hard-edged trombone spot.
That playfulness is also evident on the funky take of the standard "All or Nothing at All". The feel modulates from funk to straight-ahead and back to funk. It's a delight hearing the Quintet playing around. That's true throughout "The Alchemist" -- Scott Reeves and company sound like they having such a great time and the audience shows its appreciation for every solo and song!