Riel performed and recorded with Ben Webster and Dexter Gordon in the '60s during the saxophonists' years in Copenhagen. Thirty-five years later, the Danish drummer still keeps stellar company, as this album shows. Produced by Chris Minh Doky (who plays bass on the album), the CD includes tenor saxophonists Mike Brecker and Jerry Bergonzi, guitarist Mike Stern and pianist Kenny Werner. Riel is a tasty player who occasionally recalls Billy Higgins. His lone extended feature is a solo performance called "In My Own Sweets Way," dedicated to trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison and drummer Zutty Singleton. (Edison could sing like Singleton soloed on the snare drum, Riel says in the liner notes.) As an accompanist, Riel can be scrappy (as he is behind Brecker on a fast "Bessie's Blues") or understated. Brecker sizzles in his two appearances. He and Bergonzi appear together only on Webster's "Did You Call Her Today?," which catches each in dazzling form. Bergonzi is aboard for six of the album's nine tunes-great dark tone, inflections and nuances, lines and rhythm. Stern matches Brecker's swarming rhythms on "Bessie's" and also proves fast company with Bergonzi on the latter's bluesy "The Bat" and intricate, boppish "High Tops." Werner is featured in a trio version of "I Fall in Love Too Easily"-a lovely, well-developed performance that also includes a Scott LaFaro-like solo by Doky. The pianist also appears on five other tracks. His light, Basieish lines (with modern chords) on "Did You Call Her Today?" is a perfect alternate to the oblique, flurried tenors. If you're in the mood for some first-rate postbop jazzmen at the top of their game, this album is highly recommended.
Owen Cordle , JazzTimes
Mention Copenhagen to an American jazz musician who has spent time there, and you are likely to hear a dissertation on the abundance of jazz resources that the Danish city has to offer. Dexter Gordon and Stan Getz actually lived there, and the list of American improvisers who have recorded in Copenhagen is long and impressive. One Danish musician who has played with his share of American artists is veteran drummer Alex Riel who has backed such heavyweights as Getz, Ben Webster, Sonny Rollins, and Wayne Shorter. Recorded during a visit to New York in 1999, Rielatin' finds Riel leading a team that includes a fellow Dane (bassist Chris Minh Doky) as well as American players Michael Brecker (tenor sax), Jerry Bergonzi (tenor sax), Mike Stern (electric guitar), and Kenny Werner (acoustic piano). Although some of Stern's guitar solos are rock influenced, Rielatin' is essentially a straight-ahead hard bop/post-bop date rather than a fusion date. Nothing terribly surprising occurs, but all of the improvisers are in good form on a hard-swinging CD that ranges from various Bergonzi originals to Charlie Parker's "Dexterity," Ben Webster's "Did You Call Her Today," and the standard "I Fall in Love Too Easily." Brecker really tears into John Coltrane's "Bessie's Blues," which lasts 11 minutes and is the longest track. Rielatin' falls short of essential, but it's a likable disc that never fails to swing.
Alex Henderson, All Music Guide