The George Coleman Quintet in Baltimore
“I Got Rhythm”
(Cellar Live/Reel To Real)
A quintessential hardbop sideman, saxophonist George Coleman didn’t release his first studio album as a leader until 1977, when he was in his early 40s. However, he had helmed his own bands before then, having learned the rudiments from colleagues such as Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Charles Mingus and Max Roach, with all of whom he had recorded. In 1971, Coleman brought a five-piece into the Famous Ballroom in Baltimore, a venue the Memphis native had played frequently over the years. Fortunately, the performance was preserved on tape by the Left Bank Jazz Society, although never commercially available until now. Thanks to the research efforts of Zev Feldman, The George Coleman Quintet in Baltimore (Cellar Live/Reel to Real) offers a snapshot of the saxophonist and his burning band during a transitional time in jazz. Coleman sounds completely energized, by the setting and by a superb rhythm section comprising pianist Albert Dailey, bassist Larry Ridley and drummer Harold White. Trumpeter Danny Moore joins him on the frontline, as they dig into a set that’s at once modern and deeply anchored in bop. The influence of Charlie Parker is particularly evident on the group’s sizzling sprint through “I Got Rhythm.” Coleman and Moore all but defy the laws of physics with their warp-speed solos, matched by Dailey’s finger-breaking turn and supported by the brisk ministrations of Ridley and White. At the age of 85, Coleman remains active, having released a quartet album last year and a recent collaboration with bassist Brandi Disterheft.