…a body of work that has marked him out as a player of great originality.

TMA Records

Tim Armacost (tenor & soprano saxophones); Joe Locke (vibraphone); Jim Ridl (piano); Kenny Davis (double bass); Rudy Royston (drums)

Saxophonist Tim Armacost is a force to be reckoned with. He has slowly and steadily built a reputation and a body of work that has marked him out as a player of great originality and distinction. It is only to be hoped that recordings such as this will help propel his musical trajectory further.

In danger of becoming a musician’s musician, Armacost is very much his own man having processed his influences and distilled them into his own unique take on the modern jazz tradition. In his playing one can detect the influence of John Coltrane in the saxophonist’s steely tone, and the rhythmic dexterity and lyrical agility of Sonny Rollins, yet Armacost is able to project this in his own voice to which he adds his harmonic ingenuity.

Not prone to pyrotechnics, although he can turn up the heat when required, Armacost’s solos have a patient quality about them, and delivered if he all the time in the world to say what needs to be said before moving on.

With The Inevitable Note Armacost presents a neatly programmed set of contemporary hard bop with some cracking compositions that suit this new quintet very well indeed. Opening with ‘Lazy Afternoon’, the quintet settles into their groove. The theme is delivered with a commanding tenor statement for Armacost before he launches into his first solo of the album.

Immediately capturing the attention with a hard edged tone and melodic figures that never quite go where one might expect. This is followed by Joe Locke’s vibes solo that brings the pace down and releasing the tension built up by the saxophonist.

‘Ramble in the Gramble’ kicks off with a frantic bass riff that lifts the drummer and pianist carrying them along as the tenor picks up the theme.

Armacost’s solo is a little more fragmentary as he rides the bass line that continues to propel the music along. Joe Locke’s vibes solo follows a similar path as the notes fly from his mallets, carefully building his melodic phrases over the tumultuous rhythm section.

Davis’s bass is again to the fore as he introduces ‘Yaomacost’ with his strong and full sound on the instrument gripping the attention. Switching to soprano saxophone, the playing is lyrical and tender from Armacost. If the tone is not as full as his tenor sound, his control and use of dynamics give his playing a lightness if touch that is most appealing. This can be evidenced on ‘A Sliver of Silver’ where his phrases tumble over each other in a lucid solo that generates real excitement.

Back on tenor, Armacost displays a gentle swagger on ‘The Mayor’s Counsel’ in a statement of real authority, as does a splendid solo from pianist Jim Ridl, once again propelled along with urgency and good taste by the bass and drums team of Kenny Davis and Rudy Royston.

Interestingly this fine album will be released not just digitally, but in the physical format of a 180gram LP, with no immediate plans to release on CD. For audiophiles everywhere a chance to add another quality album to the collection while the rest of us should make haste and dust off our turntables in readiness.

Reviewed by Nick Lea