Jazz pianist Bruce Barth has an impeccable pedigree, having played with some of the greats of previous generations, including Stanley Turrentine, as well as leading his own groups over the past 30 or more years. His latest, a trio offering with longtime collaborators bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Montez Coleman, delivers exactly what one would expect given that pedigree in the form of eight compelling originals, most dedicated, as the title indicates, to figures ranging from McCoy Tyner to George Floyd.
The opener, dedicated to another George, George Perry (perhaps the swing-era sax player), is driven by a driving riff and Coleman's cymbal work. There's swagger in the bold chords as the track builds up a head of steam and a nice moment when the three lock back into the main theme one last time at the end. Similarly propulsive is "Let's Go," the McCoy Tyner dedication, with bouncing chords and intricate runs suggestive of what seems to be one of Barth's obvious influences. Archer contributes a sweet solo here that, like his solo on "Golden Glow," is likely to leave listeners wishing he were a little more up front in the mix generally.
"Golden Glow" and the other slower tunes demonstrate the trio's knack for ballads as well as up-tempo numbers. Another of the more leisurely tracks, the one dedicated to George Floyd, is likewise a lovely, meditative piece with sparkling washes of piano that glides along on Archer's slow plucks and Coleman's tasteful percussion. Coleman is also in fine form on "Courage-for all of us" (which bears a passing resemblance to Baden-Powell's "Canto de Xangô"), playing with the ¾ time signature so that the tune sounds nothing like a waltz.
The set as a whole serves as a kind of dedication to Coleman, who, sadly, passed away earlier this year just a few months after this recording was made. Refined, tuneful, and hopeful despite its framing as a set of requia, Dedication also serves as a reminder of the incredible depth of the New York jazz scene in addition to being a perfect Sunday afternoon record.