With Love Blue Note/Mosaic
Inhabiting an area where hard bop and avant garde rub against each other, trumpeter, composer and arranger Charles Tolliver tends to be overlooked. Despite his long career, this new big band album is only his first as a leader for Blue Note. Tolliver’s typically uncompromising, bristling charts for a powerful ensemble, which includes longtime colleagues Stanley Cowell (piano) and Cecil McBee (bass), are packed with contrapuntal incident. ’Round Midnight, for example, is squeezed through any number of hoops. Behind the in-your-face ensembles, there’s a controlled wildness and a notable orchestrator who combines the influence, perhaps, of Gerald Wilson with the raw passion of Mingus. Tolliver’s distinctive trumpet is heard on all but one of his six originals, while other soloists include Cowell, McBee, pianist Robert Glasper and saxophonists Craig Handy and Billy Harper.