On this thoroughly entertaining quintet session, twins Will and Peter Anderson team up with one of the most renowned and beloved siblings in jazz history, drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath, who turns 80 on May 31. No surprise, then, that the young reedmen sound as if they’re fully enjoying the cross-familial connection here, buoyed by Heath’s rhythmic joie de vivre. Of course, given the Andersons’ bop-rooted influences and Heath’s obvious compatibility, who would have expected anything less?
The title and opening cut, one of eight tunes penned by the Andersons for this outing, is emblematic of the album’s virtues. The frontline—Peter on tenor saxophone, Will on alto—introduces a vibrant, spiraling theme that soon gives way to a series of fluid turns from the reedmen and pianist Jeb Patton. All the while Heath is in delightful form, nimbly accenting, prodding and interjecting, before fashioning a crisply syncopated break. “Presque Vu,” the following performance, is more melodically stealthy, but again the saxes add colorful contrasts, and the rhythm section, fortified by bassist David Wong, is lifted by Heath’s always-salutary presence. “Belfast Blues,” its title notwithstanding, is actually a burner that also reveals the band’s cohesiveness and spirit. When Heath sits out on several cuts, drummer Phil Stewart prevents lulls from settling in, though he quietly enhances the mood during an insinuatingly lyrical, alto-limned performance of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.” Like “Lover Man” and “Rachel,” a woven ballad composed by Peter for his wife, it’s yet another reminder that when it comes to elegantly embellishing and resolving a romantic theme, the Andersons excel.
Jersey Jazz Review by Joe Lang
PETER AND WILL ANDERSON have been a refreshing presence on the New York City jazz scene for the last several years. These talented brothers started to have an impact while still students at Julliard, and since graduating have become recognized for their creativity as musicians and composers, and for producing cleverly conceived and executed shows about Artie Shaw and the Dorsey Brothers, and their celebration of the saxophone in jazz, The Joy of Sax. Déja Vu (Gut String Records – 020) spotlights their original compositions, as well as three standards, “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” “Lover Man” and “Just One of Those Things.” While many have associated the Andersons with older jazz styles, they are eclectic players, with this album leaning more towards bebop and hard bop. They have gathered together an all-star rhythm section of Jeb Patton on piano, David Wong on bass and either Albert “Tootie” Heath or Phil Stewart on drums. Peter on tenor sax and Will on alto sax are fluid players, with fine technique and unbounded imagination. Their original compositions are catchy, each giving a fine foundation for the impressive improvisations of the brothers and their bandmates. Give Déja Vu a listen, and you will want to revisit it many times. (peterandwillanderson.com)