Some time has passed since saxophonist Jimmy Green made his debut record for Criss Cross. By comparison with the recently released Forever
, Greene seems to have made the most of the passage of time as his confidence has grown and his individuality has become much stronger in the intervening years. Like label mates Joel Weiskopf and Wycliffe Gordon, Greene has chosen to explore the more spiritual side of his personality and the end results are quite fine indeed. Supported by pianist Xavier Davis, bassist John Benitez, and drummer Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts, Greene states his theme up front with a funky reworking of "The Old Rugged Cross" and closes with the original "He Is Lord."
Robust in tone and consistently strong across the full range of his instrument, Greene has full technical command of his horn. Just check out the opening dialogue with Watts on "In Many Tongues" and you’ll hear the saxophonist going through the permutations with that ardent upper register ‘cry’ that helps form the emotional foundation. On Ellington’s "Come Sunday" the familiar melody is almost undetectable as Greene strolls along accompanied simply by just bass and drums. His reworking of the pop tune "You Make Me Feel Brand New" is undeniably strong, with Watts providing a funk/bossa hybrid for the groove.
It’s obvious throughout this varied set that Greene has unfettered communication with his cohorts. They seem to breath as one, but at the same time give things a loose feel that allows the soloist to take chances without fear of falling. This is one of the strongest saxophone quartet records of the year and I wouldn’t be surprised to find it turn up on more than a few year-end top ten lists.