The first of the two-disc set Strickland released in the fall of 2011, Triumph of the Heavy Volume 1 lacks the punch and power of its companion live trio outing (Volume 2), but has much to recommend it, including Strickland’s embrace of the alto horn (to go with his soprano and tenor) and the addition of pianist David Bryant alongside bassist Ben Williams and Marcus’s twin brother E.J. Strickland on drums. Bryant immediately makes his presence felt, as his piano forms the spine of the opening “Lilt.” His solo sets off a string of inspired feature work (with E.J. Strickland and Williams both getting extended time) on “Bolt Bus Jitter,” which is set between a “Dawn” that rises in intensity with Marcus Strickland on soprano and plenty of space for the rhythm section to ramble, and then and multi-colored layering of Strickland’s saxes on “Virgo.” But the best track here may be “Shapes,” which sports the strength of the live disc — a strong, repetitious passage from Strickland (on tenor here), propelling brisk backing and then a tumbling scrum from all concerned — but with Bryant on board with some McCoy Tynerish prancing.
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