One Block From Planet Earth (Omnitone ***)
It doesn't take long for the listener to dig Trenton-born pianist and composer Mick Rossi as a rollicking cat worth listening to. A student of the late Philly jazz guru Dennis Sandole (a teacher of John Coltrane's), Rossi is a regular at New York's arty Knitting Factory. He has backed folks from Carly Simon to Hall & Oates, and composed scores for TV movies. Now a keyboardist and percussionist for the Philip Glass Ensemble, Rossi has created a disc with a carnival atmosphere and wide opportunities for improvisation. "Page X" is a compelling starter, leaving acres of adventurous space for trumpeter Russ Johnson. The marvelously rolling opening of "Henry and Ribsy" allows Andy Laster to get pleasantly forceful on baritone. "I Gotta Go to Bed" is intriguing for its many changes and maddening for its B-movie cacophony. Still, Rossi avoids the intellectual dryness of much art-house jazz. The session is quirky, but at least humor is in the mix, and Rossi shows a unique, freewheeling style that can hook listeners. - K.S.