aec.imt1148629.2 5/13/14 New

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Review Text A little more throttle would have been welcome on New York Jazz Quartet's cruising-paced Oasis set from 1981. As it is, Roland Hanna on piano, Frank Wess on tenor sax and flute, George Mraz on bass, and Ben Riley on drums take a low-key approach to two Wess originals and four from Hanna. It's a pleasant session, but not one that lives up to the potential of its lineup. The material is respectable and the quartet knows it well enough, but perhaps not sufficiently to transform written parts into a dynamic group effort. Mraz is the standout performer. He is in command of a ready flow of ideas and is captured with a rich, full sound. His duet with Hanna on the pianist's blues "Funk House" is a highlight that finds the pair expertly working the spaces they give each other. Elsewhere, though, Hanna, a pianist who can summon fire, passion, and drama from his instrument, is quite restrained, seemingly content to focus on his writing, rather than stimulating group interplay. Wess, too, does not take many chances or seize the opportunity to stretch out. The one sequence where he does open up is the third section of his 13-minute suite, "The Patient Prince," where he unleashes an impressive series of unrestrained choruses on tenor sax. If the goal of this quartet was to create relaxed, subdued performances, then Oasis can be considered a success. Otherwise, except for the bassist, the set does not fully exploit the potential of the music or the capabilities of these leading players. ~ Jim Todd

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