Tenor saxophonist Oleg Kireyev has been around since the ’80s, but this is his first album with this group. Pianist Keith Javors isn’t exactly unknown, I guess, but I’ve never heard anything else by him; bassist Boris Kozlov is part of the Mingus Big Band, while drummer E.J. Strickland has played with Ravi Coltrane. A gathering of musicians with backgrounds like those will lead listeners to expect a fairly traditional album, and that’s pretty much exactly what Rhyme & Reason is.

The opening title track is a stately, swinging hard bop number that gives everyone the chance to step forward and declare themselves in a manner that should get listeners’ toes tapping and convince them that these four players know their stuff. They work within the tradition, playing a relatively muscular (for 1960) blues, the pianist laying out while Kireyev solos at moderate length. Javors’ solo is equally long and slightly more assertive, setting the stage for a forcefully plucked display by Kozlov and a few outbursts from Strickland as the piece comes to an utterly natural conclusion.

Four of Rhyme & Reason’s six tracks are pleasingly familiar in exactly this sort of way. “Sierra Nicole’s Bossa” is a gently swaying ballad, as is “What is Love,” while “Happenstance” and “Chinatown” keep the boppish grooves rolling out like an endless, deep blue carpet. The sole exception to the pattern is the third track, “Springtime,” which begins with an interlude that seems totally improvised, showcasing Kozlov’s bowing skills, Kireyev’s ability to sputter through high-speed flurries of notes, and Javors’ more aggressive tendencies before launching into a high-speed workout that provides the disc’s most exciting moments.

This is a very well-played, utterly mainstream, straightahead record. If you need one more of those in your collection, this is a good one.

Phil Freeman

1. Do I foresee myself listening to this record again? Mmm…maybe.

2. Should you buy this record? Sure, what the hell.

Link to purchase, if you’re so inclined…

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