Hailey Niswanger: Oliloqui Valley


Oliloqui Valley


Hailey Niswanger (alto sax)


Confeddie (Self Released)

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Hailey Niswanger (alto sax),

Michael Palma (piano), Greg Chaplin (bass), Mark Whitfield, Jr. (drums)


Composed by Herbie Hancock


Recorded: Unknown


Rating: 91/100 (learn more)

Like the other compositions on Hancock’s brilliant Empyrean Isles, “Oliloqui Valley” was conceived as a open sketch without a fully formed melody so that the participants could improvise more freely. The idea was to make up for the lack of a lower-toned, richer instrument such as tenor saxophone.

Niswanger’s higher register alto sax replaces Freddie Hubbard’s trumpet from the original and states the two-tempo theme just has Hubbard did, but with a little more cadence. Following Palma’s bouncy solo, Niswanger uses a variety of articulations to keep her own solo fresh: trills, arpeggios and other expressions, keeping loose with that shifty rhythm. More than those things, her ability to handle the song’s chord changes with such ease is the mark of mastery.

When a song stretches over seven minutes as this one does, the ideas are usually exhausted by then; instead, Hailey Niswanger seems to be just getting warmed up.

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron

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