The most powerful aspect of Anton Schwartz's new album, "Flash Mob," is the manner in which it manages to evoke the greatest jazz quintets of the past while simultaneously stretching toward the future. When Schwartz and Dominick Farinacci (trumpet) play together in harmony on one of Schwartz's strong heads ("Swamp Thing") it recalls the great sax/trumpet combinations of the late 1950's and early 1960's — think Freddie Hubbard and Hank Mobley. But on tunes like Schwartz's "Cumulonimbus" the group ventures right to the edge of free jazz. This balance would be tough to pull off without great supporting players like Taylor Eigsti on piano; John Shifflett, bass; and Lorca Hart, drums.
Schwartz seems to acknowledge his debt to the past in excellent covers of "La Mesha" by Kenny Dorham and "Epistrophy" by Thelonious Monk and Kenny Clarke. But his own compositions sometimes sound like he boarded a time machine. That's a good thing when it results in tunes like "Alleybird" and "Spurious Causes," which could have been classics in the 1950's. His most exquisite tune here is the ballad "Dawn Song." While Schwartz and Farinacci solo beautifully throughout, Eigsti plays especially an wonderful solo on "Pangur Ban," Shifflett stretches out nicely on "Glass Half Missing," and Lorca takes the spotlight (for too short a time) on "The Contender."