Water Street was a warehouse district in Brooklyn, its ancient blocks standing grimly as a city grows around them. Andrew Cheshire was not grim; on the cover he leans on his guitar, looking hopeful. He had reason to: contained here are three sessions from early 'Nineties, showing skill, muscle and thought, as he shows his stuff with a variety of groups. Several of these players are now famous; it would not surprise me if Andrew became the next.
"Water Street Revival" does not sound like the buildings look. It's a bright flash of happy sound. Piano and vibes build a wall of chords, and Andrew runs atop, in smooth, assured lines. Pianist James Weidman gets aggressive on his solo, close to the theme with bright flourishes at the end. Bryan Carrott spreads happiness with his vibes, nice round tones as the notes go everywhere. Cheshire's brief solo has a better tone than the theme - liquidy smoothness like Burrell, but faster, and the ideas come in a hurry.
Lonnie Plaxico's rubbery tone opens "Our World", and the hopeful theme comes from Carrott and Cheshire. It's largely a group piece; Cheshire does tiny flutters on the flutters on the theme, and is a gentle breeze on his solo. The notes mention the "Lite-Jazz" potential of this track, but it's too vigorous for that, especially in Carrott's echoey solo. "Search for Truth" is a moody waltz with two themes, a happy interlude, and a lonely Cheshire solo with some chords and a very ordered progression: he may be sad, but he knows where he's going. Carrott's solo is double-time (at least!) and forgets the waltz tempo until the end, when he gets sad. "Sanashi" is the last track with Carrott; it's notable for Andrew's long lines, which sound like Pat Martino in spots. Weidman's solo is solid, and Carrott gets very busy. This group plays well together, and the piano-vibes combination sounds great.
The next four songs are from a 1990 session, and give Andrew a chance to stretch. "Jet" is supersonic, as Cheshire cycles phrases, and comps chords behind himself. Greg Bandy gives a big assist on the drums, and Marcus McLaurine wields a very propulsive bass. Bandy has a great solo, everything goes totally silent, and the slow theme returns. This is the jazz version of a "guitar hero" song, and Andrew passes the audition. "Portrait of Ellsworth" has very warm chords, and Cheshire digs in: light chords on the intro, heavy echo on the solo. A couple of places he takes a repeated phrase and the echo finishes the job. Spacey, and unlike his other efforts, but his "sound" is still there. McLaurine's solo is high and fast, and Andrew gives him round chords, like a keyboard in spots. It's my favorite track. "June Song" is a pleasant mood, and the echo makes it warmer. The McLaurine and Cheshire lines mix well on this one, and it's more in the "smooth" category than "Our World".
We now get a quartet date from 1990, the oldest tracks on the disc. Weidman is back on piano,.and he makes himself known on "Dock Street Blues", a meaty solo that tops his 1991 efforts. Cheshire plays "I Love You" high and beautiful, and his solo keeps the standard high. Weidman's loud comping is a distraction, but a thoughtful solo helps his cause. Tyler Mitchell's bass sounds like McLaurine's, with an added deep rumble I love. The fadeout is gorgeous, with a high ring that is golden. The sound on "Morning Song" has a metallic twang, and Weidman's chords embrace you. Cheshire also gets in a spot of rhythm guitar, largely absent on this disc. The line is quite attractive, and stands out among a host of good songs. "Odessa" is a prime mover, and Cheshire's fast lines have a bite I really enjoy. Special honors to Yoron Israel - a track like this needs top-class drumming, and gets it. As a bonus, there's a solo recording from 1992 - "When I'm With You" has echo, a snap to the strings, and a gentle grace. A moment like this was made for the finale.
Rating: *** ½. There are many things to like here. Cheshire's varied approach is a plus. High marks to the sidemen, especially Bryan Carrott, whom I want to hear more. Top tracks are "Portrait of Ellsworth", "Search for Truth", and "Odessa".