This is a subtle album of quiet strength, easy to wrongly dismiss as “cocktail music” for the perhaps uneducated listener. Noted bassist Young has recruited drummer Barry Elmes and, most crucially, the well-known pianist Cedar Walton as his collaborators in this trio project, a combination of originals and standards. The players are in fine form from the first notes.
The opener, “Bremond’s Blues” and the second song, “Just In Time” are to my ears more notable for their accompaniment than for Young, and this is no doubt intentional. Here Young, who is certainly capable of holding the lead with his instrument, as he illustrates later on the disc, lays back and lets Walton (on the former track, which he also wrote) and Elmes (on the latter) play. The first feature for Young’s melodic, bowed bass playing is the third cut “Sweet and Lovely”, which is self-descriptive, and he also saws away on the title track, which strikes me as the kind of piece that is more impressive to other virtuosos than to the layman. “Lost in the Stars” makes a pleasing slow-dance number out of the Weill/Anderson song, the stars in this reading appear to be over a bandshell. Of Young’s own originals, “The Night Is Long” is most notable for giving Walton another chance to shine; “Ode to the Southwest” works with a familiar-sounding groove but does not disappoint and only “Down the Middle” is unremarkable. Walton’s second composition, “A Bell For Bags” is not as strong as “Bremond’s Blues”.
This is a solid, enjoyable album that only fails to make it to the ranks of favorites because it lacks a certain “specialness”, a sparkle of invention and ideas that elevate the truly great albums of our time. But, particularly if you are already a fan of the jazz-trio sound, you will not go wrong here.