Glenn Astarita

In 2008, due to pre-engagement scheduling and travel mishaps, this recording came close to being scrapped. With some commitment and fortitude, the musicians shifted gears and recorded this session at an alternate location in Syracuse, N.Y. Indeed, a good thing, as the fourteen tracks serve up a rather homogenized brew, featuring cross-sectional outlooks of the jazz vernacular, where the quartet seamlessly integrates the inside, outside, and free spectrums into a personalized group-centric sound.

Veteran pianist David Haney – a longtime artist for this record label – benefits from a hearty support structure, including saxophonist Doug Webb who is on the heels of a superfine 2011 date for Posi-Tone records titled “Swing Shift,” featuring legendary bassist Stanley Clarke. Otherwise, Haney’s quartet dishes out ample doses of pop and sizzle, abetted by Webb’s cunning improvisational segments, largely constructed with edgy intonations, bristling flurries, and yearning choruses. Webb’s modalities could be viewed as a combination of vintage and free-form John Coltrane. Although his phraseology is not wholly derivative, he adopts some of Trane’s searching-like mechanisms.

Accelerated by drummer Mat Marucci and Argentinean bassist Jorge Hernaez’s bouyant pulses, toggling between bop, free-bop and mainstream, Haney arms the band with a variegated line of attack as he rhythmically comps, embellishes, and assists with the tension-building intervals. He also injects free-form piano clusters into various movements, signaling a myriad of off-center diversions.

The quartet tears down walls, shifts strategies, and morphs anthem-like movements with soaring lines, and upbeat incursions on the three-part, “Remembrance Suite.” And they execute a groove-oriented swing during “Jeanaye,” sparked by a memorable melody that is contrasted by Haney’s jabbing and darting block chords amid a few gracefully rendered delicacies. As Webb’s soloing jaunts comprise staggered flows, linear runs, and affirm that an active mind is on the loose. Hence, the band works within a broad temporal plane, coinciding with the respective musicians’ solid compositions and cleverly implemented arrangements where structure and improvisation are splendidly balanced throughout. – Glenn Astarita

David Haney: piano; Mat Marucci: drums; Doug Webb: saxophone; Jorge Hernaez: bass.