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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Rich Halley 4 - Wisdom of Rocks (Pine Eagle Records, 2014) ****½

By Stefan Wood

Among the mountain of music that we try to get through to review during the years, inevitably there are some that get overlooked, and one such disc is the Rich Halley 4’s Wisdom of Rocks. Long story short, this is a real gem. Released in the Spring of 2014, the Rich Halley 4 — comprised of Rich Halley (tenor sax), Michael Vlatkovich (trombone), Clyde Reed (bass), and Carson Halley (drums) — serve up a high energy set of 12 tracks that make its 53 minute length seem too short.

The group combines frenetic post bop with a dose of Charles Mingus swagger, mid 60’s Blue Note new jazz tough attitude, and a dollop of free improv skronk. Carson Halley is a shining light on this disc, exhibiting a variety of modes that are assured and propel the group forward, providing a counterpoint for the horn leads. Clyde is excellent, giving the foundation with a funk and bluesy approach that hold everything together. Rich and Michael are the front line, attacking like Jackie McLean and Grachan Moncur, acerbic and with power. Standout tracks are “The Atoll,” a furious post bop assault that recalls the classic album by McLean “One Step Beyond;” the title track “The Wisdom of Rocks,” a swinging hard bop tune from start to a raucous finish; “The Get-Go,” toe tapping and downright funky; “Radial Symmetry,” a low tempo piece that has Halley and Vlatkovich stretch out their playing, and features Clyde’s bass playing throughout; and “Of Fives and Sixes,” an excellent penultimate ending track that vibrates and features Rich with some incendiary tenor playing.

This is damn fine music; highly recommended to those who love good meaty post hard bop. It honors those traditions and carries forth with their own flavor. Get it!!!

Head over to Halley's site for some sound clips.