ADAM CRUZ Milestone (Sunnyside)
Drummer Adam Cruz, a native New Yorker and son of percussionist Ray Cruz, studied with Keith Copeland and Kenny Washington and went on to work with the Mingus Big Band, Herbie Mann, Chick Corea, Paquito D’Rivera, and Danilo Pérez, to name a few. This is his debut album, and all the songs are his. What a dynamite crew: it’s a quintet with Chris Potter on tenor sax, Ben Street on bass, Steve Cardenas on guitar, and Edward Simon on piano. Soprano saxophonist Steve Wilson and alto saxman Miguel Zenón take turns guesting on every track, so it’s really a sextet disc. Potter is flying nicely once things get going, after a suspenseful intro on the opener, “Secret Life.” Two thirds through, the energy winds down, creating space for a gentle piano-guitar duet and a quiet, stately ending. The Latin-tinged “Emje” is less intense, but it’s still a thick, jazzy mix, with a lot of spontaneity. Cruz pops percussively to Simon and Street’s improvisational voicings, and then the juice jumps up with Zenón’s fleet alto work. “The Gadfly” has Cardenas in a fusion groove, and the leader gets a chance to show his skill, working solidly against a repeating bass figure. The final minutes offer some mad dueling-saxophones stuff. There’s a lot of variety in the album’s second half, and most of it’s equally hot and good.