Drummer Cecil Brooks III has a lot going for him: amazing dexterity, an encyclopedic knowledge of the jazz-drum tradition, and a knack for playing the right thing at the right time. He's also from Pittsburgh, the birthplace of both Art Blakey and Kenny Clarke. That gives him an extra edge in the musical lineage department, which is evident on this CD with organist Radam Schwartz, alto and tenor saxophonists Bruce Williams and Don Braden, and trumpeter Riley Mullins. Brooks' layered cross-rhythms and driving beats fuel the improvisational imagination of his bandmates as they invoke the organ combos of Jimmy Smith and Larry Young. Straight-ahead swing is the groove on Janet Jackson's "I Get Lonely" and Tevin Campbell's "Can We Talk." The mellow, midtempo "Adreena" kicks with Brooks's hip-hop rim shots. Brooks's beautiful brushwork imbues the ballad medley that includes "Body and Soul," "I Can't Get Started," and "Tenderly." That Brooks can show such subtlety in his brushwork is rare in a drummer of his percussive power--which shouldn't be missed in its full glory on Arthur Blythe's Spirits in the Field. --Eugene Holley Jr.
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