Personnel: Joe Locke (vibraphone); Mark Soskin (piano); Harvie Swartz (bass); Tim Horner (drums).
While recording a series of dates for Steeplechase, vibraphonist Joe Locke was never predictable or in the least bit complacent, frequently changing personnel for each date and never falling into a rut in choosing material. His quartet on this 1995 session includes pianist Mark Soskin, bassist Harvie Swartz, and drummer Tim Horner; the music is wide-ranging, concentrating heavily on modern jazz repertoire. Standards include a lovely waltzing "Fly Me to the Moon" and a slow, exquisite arrangement of "Skylark." It might seem dangerous to tackle a piece such as John Lewis' "Django" with the identical instrumentation of the best-known version recorded by the composer during his years leading Modern Jazz Quartet, but it is also the sign of a musician who is confident not only in his own abilities but those of his accompanists; although this arrangement is not drastically different from the classic 1955 recording by the MJQ, the excellent individual solos and Swartz's superb arco bass make it noteworthy in its own right. A spacious approach to Denny Zeitlin's "Quiet Now" features Locke and Soskin as a duo. Among more recent works are Swartz's "Truce," which begins with an intense bass solo before evolving into a driving post-bop chart. Frank Kimbrough's introspective "Sanibel Island" seems to inspire some of the best solos of the date. This is one of a number of highly recommended CDs recorded by Locke during the 1990s. ~ Ken Dryden