Recording Date: March 25, 2008 & March 26, 2008
Alvin Queen's longtime European expatriate status has apparently ended, as this recording for the veteran drummer was done in New York City with younger musicians who admire his veteran presence and solid mainstream jazz credentials. Several cuts hearken back to modified Jimmy Smith style organ combos, while others have a feel stemming from Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and some get down and dirty with the original funk of those like Horace Silver. Queen himself is a solid drummer who does not employ bashing or histrionics a la Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, or Jeff Watts, while his musicality is second to none, and rivals peers like Joe Chambers. Organist Mike LeDonne shines brightly as the glue on this session, with guitarist Peter Bernstein right by his side, while trumpeter Terell Stafford and alto saxophonist Jesse Davis prove a fine tandem that front the music in a faithful, straight-ahead, no-nonsense fashion. For those who are veteran listeners of jazz, you'll recognize a faithful version of Silver's "Cape Verdean Blues" with its wonderfully rich harmonies and churning rhythm, or Wayne Shorter's "United" with a similar Latin beat tacked onto a New Orleans feeling, not so much embellished as it is slightly shaded with LeDonne's organ. "I Got a Woman" is a typical, tried and true boogaloo groove that would make its author Ray Charles smile. Two obscure Oscar Peterson tunes are included, with "Sushi" a fast, insistent bop, and "Backyard Blues" a galloping romp/shuffle served under the tangy horns. Joe Pace, hardly known as a writer of jazz, contributed the title track in its happy, more contemporary modern organ combo format, while "Let Us Go into the House" certainly lives up to its singsongy, blues/gospel funk title. Davis brings to the repertoire the slow, cool, and basic "Blues on Q," as well as "Alba," a hip Blakey-type modern jazz swinger with Queen's drum fill-ins as pauses for thought and Bernstein's tasty guitar work. The obligatory Queen solo, "The Drum Thing," concludes the CD on a rumbling, tasteful note with help from Randy Weston's longtime conga player Neil Clarke. Were this to be a real working band (all of the participants are leaders in their own right,) jazz listeners would be shouting to the rafters for more of this excellent unit perhaps touring in support of this music. For now, this should do just fine as a quite memorable effort.
- Michael G. Nastos (All Music Guide)