It's been 11 years since saxophonist Vince Ercolamento released "Delightful Eyes," his excellent first album as a leader. With his new release, "Inner Soul," Ercolamento firmly establishes himself as not only a fantastic saxophone player, but also a top composer of funky fusion. I don't know if it's all those years of playing with Prime Time Funk, but Ercolamento has written some of the catchiest, most soulful jazz I've heard in years, not to mention gorgeous mid-tempo ballads like the title track.
Of course you can't pull off funk-fests like "Walkin' Bayou" or "Something's Strange" without top notch supporting players like Joe Chiappone, who hits all the right chords and takes several knock-out solos of his own on guitar. Peter Chwazik and Paul Mastriani expertly set the groove on bass and drums throughout. (Chwazik also plays guitar on two tracks and takes a great bass solo on "Inner Soul.") But it's Ercolamento who pulls off magnificent solo after solo on sax and flute. And it's his compositions — infectious from start to finish — that carry the day.