Here are four well respected veterans of the jazz life, all of whom have earned the collective name Heads Of State. Gary Bartz, alto sax; Larry Willis, piano; David Williams, bass; and Al Foster, drums, provide an energetic workout on eleven tunes, well balanced between standards and original material. Let's take a look at a few album highlights. The opener, "Four In One", brings some new harmonic luster to the rarely heard Monk tune. "Moose the Mooch" is a Charlie Parker bop classic with wit and fun intact. A couple of tunes "owned" by Miles Davis, his own "Sippin' at Bells" and John Lewis' "Milestones" provide further bop flavor, and Bartz makes sure we get a silvery unaccompanied verse to the Gershwin beauty "Someone To Watch Over Me". "Freedom Jazz Dance", a soulful Eddie Harris piece complete with Al Foster's backbeat, is perhaps the edgiest tune of the set. On all these and a few added originals there's a strong, cohesive feel to this album. One can hear that all the players were "on" for this session. It all comes out in the music.
Smoke Sessions Records; 2017; appx. 73 min.