Brilliant and spirited soloing, paired with rambunctious interplay, place tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker and his quartet a notch above many a working jazz band. Collectively they display a cogent connection to the music’s history — specifically John Coltrane’s coherent and cohesive quartets during the Atlantic years; Tuesday they turned Trane’s embers and generated a whole new fire.
Lifting off from three tracks that appear on his new Impulse! disc, “Two Blocks From the Edge” and two tunes from his double Grammy-winner “Tales From the Hudson,” Brecker played with a sharp aggressiveness that doesn’t always show itself on his discs. He rolled in and out of a host of styles — Latin, New Orleans funk and straightahead bebop — attacking each with melodic ideas and rounded tones, getting his money’s worth out of each before moving on.
Brecker’s uncompromising support came foremost from the electrifying drummer Ralph Peterson. Peterson plays loud, and to some degree that has to be an impetus for the rest of the band to kick it up a notch, but he does so with accuracy and forethought. Pianist Joey Calderazzo, whose compositions are the cornerstone of the act, solos with a similar exhilaration though he keeps a lid on the volume; bassist James Genus is steady as an accompanist and a clever soloist.
Brecker’s tour will take him across the U.S. before a late summer trek through Europe. In Italy he’ll be doing two solo saxophone concerts in the Dolemite mountains, and, for a test run, he deconstructed Coltrane’s glorious ballad, “Naima.” He broke down the tune’s short phrases and raced through scales, hinting at the melody as he caught his breath. After grafting his own personality onto a composition that is among the handful that defined Coltrane, he brought in the master’s featherweight breathiness to the end, a touching tip of the hat that underscored Brecker’s commitment to Coltrane’s style as well as his spirit.