Paul Keeling The Farthest Reach

Pianist/composer Paul Keeling is clearly speaking the language of his forebears as he writes and plays in ways that fit comfortably within the parameters laid out by previous generations of players, particularly those who recorded for Blue Note. His nine-track CD alternates between trio and quintet settings for his compelling compositions and tunes by some of those forefathers, such as Thelonious Monk, Kenny Dorham and Pat Metheny. Joined by trumpeter Chris Davis and tenor saxist Steve Kaldestad, "Mauna Loa" and "King of Clubs" are two tunes that give the five-some a great workout. Both could be lost tracks from a Lee Morgan album and give the entire group, including drummer Morgan Childs and bassist Sean Cronin, a chance to dig in and blow it out. The closer is an affecting version of Graham Nash's "Just a Song Before I Go" that captures exquisitely the inherent sadness, and loneliness, surrounding the transitory bond between musicians and those whose lives they touch. Richly rewarding, The Farthest Rich grooves without letting up for a second. (Independent)