The Toronto Jazz Orchestra The Path

Tight, swinging and passionate, the TJO have clearly spent their time rehearsing these demanding charts to make them sing. Even the high register trumpet lines come off well executed, phrased with finesse and attention to every articulation mark. And there are some strong solos, as on "Cereal Blocks," with muscular tenor sax solo from Michael Carter and astute piano by Ali Berkok, whose presence is felt throughout the ten-track CD. You'd think vocalist Kurt Elling's lyrics would be the best part of "Esperanto" but although his words are ponderous and un-mellifluous, Sophia Perlman delivers them in her forceful, smoky alto and then kicks the riff-y tune into high gear with some compelling scatting. While a couple of solos don't quite achieve lift-off, most tunes feature vigorous blowing. Leader Josh Grossman's puckish flugelhorn on "Chazz" and Mark Laver's (of the See Through Trio) nimble soprano on "The Call" definitely get airborne. A standout composition arrangement by non-TJO member Erik Patterson is "Happy at Sad Things," with snappy contrapuntal parts and wicked sax lines. Recorded at Humber College's state-of-the-art studio, the sound and sectional balance are flawless. Nice work from top to bottom. (Independent)