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Nighttown (1992)

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Bill Stewart

Don Grolnick's second and final Blue Note CD picks up where Nothing Personal left off, utilizing identical instrumentation but with mostly different players. Bass clarinetist Marty Ehrlich offers an Eric Dolphy-inspired solo in the pianist's wild setting of the standard "What Is This Thing Called Love?," which begins in a leisurely Afro-Cuban manner before taking off into post-bop territory at a brisk tempo. The remaining tracks are all originals, where Grolnick demonstrates his gifts as a surprisingly original arranger, utilizing the horns and reeds in unusual ways in the eerie "Heart of Darkness." The introspective "Nighttown" suggests a late-night cab ride on a nearly empty Manhattan street, highlighted by Randy Brecker's memorable muted trumpet. "Blues for Pop" is a strong finale, showcasing bassist Dave Holland at length, with potent contributions by the leader and tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano as well. Later reissued with Nothing Personal as a two-CD set, this worthwhile release has long since lapsed from print. ~ Ken Dryden