Up until now, pianist Kevin O’Connell has only been on recordings as a sideman including with tenor-saxophonist Clifford Jordan (he was a member of the tenor’s quartet for six years). His career includes working for a long period with Billy Hart and such late greats as drummer Vernel Fournier, Philly Joe Jones, Junior Cook, Al Grey, and Ira Sullivan.

Hot New York Minutes gives O’Connell a chance to be in the spotlight at the head of a quartet with Adam Brenner (alto and tenor), bassist Paul Gill, and drummer Mark Taylor. The music is high-quality straight ahead jazz with the emphasis on lesser-known songs. Only “For Heaven’s Sake” would be considered a standard. In addition to five originals by either O’Connell or Brenner, there are revivals of Cedar Walton’s “Newest Blues,” Tadd Dameron’s “Choose Now,” and a pair of songs by bassist Bill Lee: the ballad “A Thought” and a soulful “Biskit.”

O’Connell has his own fresh voice within the modern mainstream of jazz and most of the music could e considered hard bop. Among the highlights are O’Connell’s “One For Cliff,” his tender Latin-flavored “Playa Cuebirta,” a swinging “One For George,” and “Choose Now” (which Dameron had recorded with Clifford Brown seventy years ago).

It all works well on this enjoyable set, making one look forward to Kevin O’Connell’s future projects, hopefully as a leader.

Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian