George Coleman

The Quartet
(Smoke Sessions)

Everything about saxophonist George Coleman’s The Quartet is perfect. You could give it five stars. You could give it one. It just is. Its execution, from the meticulous production to the soloists’ considered choices made within familiar song structures, is flawless.

For most, Coleman is one of those names that elicits a confident nod of recognition that gently disguises the cognitive wheels spinning overtime to locate the details of his prolific oeuvre. He’s always been one of his generation’s most capable performers, confidently luxuriating in saccharine ballads or shredding through angular hard-bop changes. On The Quartet, he favors elegant, sparse phrases, rarely overrunning a bar or two; within those spaces, he manages to say a lot. And two minutes into “Prelude To A Kiss,” he strings together a pair of high-pitched notes that tell the song’s entire story, almost rendering the rest of the performance redundant were it not for the irresistible bounce of John Webber’s bass and Harold Mabern’s eminently tasteful piano solo. The Quartet just feels like being a kid in someone’s well-furnished, nice, big house. You kind of want to play and run around, but you’re afraid to break any of the really nice stuff.