Based on his background and abilities, it is astonishing that a player like tenor saxophonist Hadley Caliman is not more well-known. Originally from L.A., Caliman studied with Dexter Gordon before touring with Mongo Santamaria, Gerald Wilson, Willie Bobo, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson and many more, even - at one point - touring live with the rock group Santana. For more than twenty years, he was a member of the music faculty at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA. Since his retirement, the 78-year-old musicians has been performing live and recording. On his new release, Straight Ahead, the veteran is backed by a solid and hard-swinging group, including pianist Eric Verlinde, bassist Phil Sparks, and drummer Matt Jorgensen. He is joined on the front line by trumpeter Thomas Marriott - who also produced the recording. Charging out of the gates on Caliman's "Cigar Eddie," the band sounds like the Jazz Messengers on this straight-ahead hard bop gem that showcases Caliman's Coltrane-meets-Dexter Gordon-style and Marriott burning it up like Freddie in his prime. Things slow to a sultry boil on Harold Land's "Rapture," as Mariott and Caliman show how to play soft and easy - exceptional! Nice solo here by pianist Verlinde as well, and his playing is a pleasure throughout. The tenor master also turns in a beautiful turn in the spotlight on the ballad "You Leave Me Breathless." Marriott adds the pulsing "Cathlamet," while the band also covers Strayhorn's "Lush Life," Lee Morgan's "Totem Pole," "The Night has a Thousand Eyes" and Joe Locke (who appeared on Caliman's 's last release Gratitude) 's "Blues for PT." Hip tunes played strongly and energetically by a Pacific Northwest group led by a 78-year-old who is still charging straight ahead.