Mark O'Connor Quintet / Press

“A very good saxophonist he is… melodically and rhythmically engaging lines… expressiveness and melodic sensitivity.”

Jazz Times Magazine

"Tenor saxophonist Mark O'Connor (not to be confused with the veteran violinist, guitarist and mandolin player with the same name) should surprise many jazz fans with his striking debut as a leader. Utilizing a rotating cast of talented musicians in either quintet or quartet settings; the Chicago-based musician's confident and full-bodied sound belies his youth on this post-bop oriented date. Six of the ten selections are his own, especially the challenging, well-named opener ("The Beast") and the free-spirited mixed meter "Mirage." Neither is he a slouch as an interpreter of ballads, which include two works by the matchless team of Rodgers & Hart: a loping treatment of "With a Song in My Heart" and a touching take of "It's Easy to Remember." Finally, his driving rendition of Jackie McLean's "Little Melonae" wraps the CD with a flourish."

“Suspended Reality features O’Connor’s basic quartet — his sax, backed by piano, bass and drums — with the addition of trumpeter Victor Garcia. They produce an excellent menu of straight-ahead jazz: no tricks or complexities, just the kind of swinging music that has been predominant around Chicago for decades. O’Connor’s compositions include ballads, mid-tempo finger-snappers, old-time blues and freeway flag-wavers. "Song for Betony" (his wife) is particularly moving; "The Sound of Joy" is a take on the kind of blues so often heard during the early jazz years; and "Kite Flying" and "Quiet Snow" are very nice "mood" tunes.”

“The shining aspect of the album [Suspended Reality] is the sheer exuberance of playing that comes from all parties…the players have a certain level of joy embedded in the passages that comes out remarkably well.”