Seeing that this sextet hailing from Virginia had had a goat one of my favorite David Holland compositions ("Conference of the Birds") made me think Mr. Borgo might be an abstractionist of some sort, but no, this is mostly scrupulously 'in' if easily fluent hard bop. Borgo has a nice round sax tone (seems most of the new players I come across lately are hankering after that Coleman Hawkins sound as opposed to Lester Young or Charlie Parker) both on soprano and tenor, and when going 'free' he gets a littleragged if remaining focused. Hot tempos are not a problem; Borgo's wild flight over the jouncing rhythm team of Sam Wilson (guitar), Pete Spar (bass) and Mark Ferber (drums, and stellar!) is fresh and sometimes even dryly laconic. Late in his statement he even seems to change direction and work back against his bandmates. A nice touch, and Ferber's drum break is even better. Scattered, yet in control. Mingus' should-be evergreen "Duke Ellington's Sound Of Love" gets a faithful and lively reading,"Conference" is a mysterious cacophony of the sort I could be convinced that the birds would understand better than I do (which was the point, I think), and the original melodies are knotty and memorable. "Oddity"'s near-R&B head gets a laugh too, considering how it completely falls apart and rolls around in Ornette Coleman territory for a while. Cool juxtaposition there.
I think Mr. Borgo and band (including John D'Earth, trumpet, fluegelhorn; and Alan Ferber, trombone) are looking for a new combination of the elements of 'free' and 'hard bop.' Some have called that mix 'free bop' and sometimes it is, but I just think this band is looking for something different. I can't nail it down here because they haven't yet, themselves. But this CD is worth a listen to for anybody wanting to hear the beginnings of a new approach.
by Kenneth Egbert