"Recorded live at New Orleans' number one jazz venue - "Snug Harbor", tenor saxophonist Martin Krusche aligns himself with native New Orleanian, trumpeter Nicholas Payton for the Quintet outing titled, Friendship Pagoda. And with support from a sturdy rhythm section featuring pianist Victor Atkins, bassist David Pulphus and drummer Geoff Clapp, the band produces a streamlined groove along with steamy overtones thanks to the powerful and often counterbalancing attack of the lead soloists.
Krusche's original compositions are primarily based upon cyclic hybrid Latin-mid-tempo swing, bump and grind type measures and intervals, which provides a solid framework for expansive melodies and an abundance of strong soloing. Throughout, the saxophonist and Payton compliment one another via Krusche's warm tone and Payton's lustrous, yet at times brawny lines which is evident on spirited pieces such as "Southern Belles" and "Phoenix". With "I'd Like To Sing", Payton and Krusche emit joyous proclamations amid lilting themes, striking melodies and an overall purposeful mode of execution. The piece titled "Bad Breakfast" boasts Victor Atkins' sweeping McCoy Tyner-ish piano introduction followed by Krusche's silky smooth choruses. Essentially, Friendship Pagoda comes as a welcome surprise! One that is marked by tuneful compositions and impassioned dialogue. Recommended."