Harvey Pekar was most well known as a graphic novelist, but he was also a huge jazz fan and occasional critic. He receives a fine tribute on this album, a strong disc rooted in the bebop and hard-bop firmament of jazz, and played with a passion and joy that is infectious. Ernie Krivda plays tenor saxophone, joined by Claude Black on piano, Marion Haydenon bass, Renell Gonsalves on drums and Sean Jones or Dominick Farinacci sitting in on trumpet. Krivda has a great brawny tenor sound (what is it about these Cleveland tenor players: from Albert Ayler to Joe Lovano, they project a huge well of sound) and it really works well on the selection of mostly well known compositions. They mix uptempo bop based numbers with equal aplomb, “Valse Hot” and “Fried Banana” show the dexterity with which the group can operate, playing complex melody lines and then supporting each other on solo statements. “Darn That Dream” is a nice piano feature for Black, who patiently probes the structure of the tune and then spools out a well constructed solo. Ending with a couple of strutting originals, “One for Willie” and “Blues for Pekar,” everybody makes the best of these blowing opportunities to show off their chops, not in a self-conscious manner, but as a demonstration of their abilities. This was a very fine mainstream jazz album that deserves wide attention. For fans of classic hard-bop tenor along the lines of Dexter Gordon or Sonny Rollins, this would be a worthwhile investment. Blues For Pekar - amazon.com, Blues For Pekar: YouTube promo.
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Atomic - Lucidity (Jazz Land, 2015) *****
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