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Album Review

The Canadian pianist and composer Bernie Senensky fits smack dab in the middle of the hard bop tradition. His quintet includes a front line of trumpeter Eddie Henderson and the Canadian saxophonist Kirk McDonald, with a solid rhythm section of Senensky, bassist Neil Swainson, and drummer Jerry Fuller in support. Senensky, who is a seasoned writer with a knack for just slightly off-center melodies, penned all but one of the ten tunes. Henderson, who is in top form, is a good choice on trumpet; his clipped phrases are a constant joy. At times, the award-winning McDonald seems a tad superfluous, although he plays competently on the seven cuts in which he appears, and he adds greatly as a second horn on the heads. Hardly innovative, McDonald's tenor blows with the verve and panache of some of the middle-weight performers from the 1950s. Senensky is a fine bop pianist, though there is not anything about his playing that particularly stands out. He does have lots of speed and a good feel for the music, and he has clearly mastered the idiom. For those looking for a delightful romp through some new tunes in the genre of hard bop in the style of the masters, you could do worse than to try out the Bernie Senensky Quintet.

New Horizons, Bernie Senensky Quintet
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