Drummer Alvin Queen is not only a first call session ace, but a leader who is noticeably comfortable and acute within both progressive and mainstream jazz stylizations. And besides looming as a master technician, the artist conveys a broad musicality throughout his undeniably, divergent projects. On this gem of a release, the drummer steers an organ-horns-guitar quintet where everyone seems to hit all the right notes and life in the fast lane proves to be a wild ride.
The band commences the proceedings off with its spin on Shirley Scott’s "There’s Blues Everywhere," as Queen nicely pushes the pulse with a sweeping gait that provides a firm lower end for the soloists’ bluesy choruses. On many of these works, the quintet kicks it into tenth-gear via episodes comprised of torrid bop motifs and groove-oriented swing, often catapulted by Queen’s high-spirited, polyrhythmic solo spots. Listen to trumpeter Terell Stafford soar into the ozone during the intensifying swing vamp titled "Queen’s Beat." Meanwhile, organist Mike LeDonne’s brisk comping and shadings provide a fertile underpinning, to consummate his fluid and darting right-hand leads.
Alto saxophonist Jesse Davis’ piece and title track "I Ain’t Looking At You," is right out of the Lou Donaldson (alto sax) School of snappy, jazz drenched R&B/funk. But the band tempers the flow a bit on the sublime and mood-stirring piece "Old Folks," where Davis’ yearning lines are constructed with vibrato techniques, trills and sinuous phrasings. Overall, Queen and his quintet stir the pot in rather boisterous fashion here. Complete with sustainable themes, the band triumphantly merges sheer firepower with fluency and enviable chops. It’s early in the year, but I’m certain that this superfine endeavor will end up on quite a few top-10 lists for 2007.