Donald Harrison, For Art’s Sake (Candid Records)

From the first note to the last, Donald Harrison and his group swing as if their lives depended on it. This is the first U.S. recording of the band he co-led with trumpeter Terence Blanchard. Joining him on this recording are Cyrus Chestnut (from his previous group) on piano, Marlon Jordan on trumpet, Christian McBride on bass and Carl Allen on drums. Allen really sounds inspired, and his playing seems to inspire the other musicians, whether he’s laying down a groove or playing Elvin Jones-like polyrhythms. He and McBride really make an exciting rhythm section. Cyrus Chestnut’s playing here really makes me wonder why no one has bothered to record him as a leader yet. His composition “Nut” shows his range as an improviser; throughout the recording he demonstrates a developed comping technique. Jordan shows a considerable Miles Davis influence and even more chops. Harrison’s playing has grown considerably over the years and his solo showcase on Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” demonstrates an almost vocal approach to the alto saxophone. The overall sound of this recording is based on the old Miles Davis group featuring John Coltrane and Wynton Kelly. If you like music played with skill and emotion, you’ll like this.