The postbop ensemble known as Quest — David Liebman on saxophones and flute, Richie Beirach on piano, Ron McClure on bass and Billy Hart on drums — was originally active throughout the 1980s, a decade of much tension around the issue of aesthetic purity in jazz. At the heart of the debate was a pointed belief that jazz had been stretched to its limits, or somehow diluted, by the digressive forces of free jazz and fusion.
Against that backdrop Quest straddled the fence. It was an outfit steeped in certain aspects of free jazz and fusion, but also an acoustic quartet given to playing standards, often with a driving sense of swing. That in-betweenness, though hardly unique, was unusual enough at the time; today it’s what passes for mainstream convention. So the band’s reunion in 2005 after a hiatus of almost 15 years carried an air of justified elation. Its first album back, on the Hat Hut label, was called “Redemption.”