Three Baritone Saxophone Band: Line for Lyons

You'll get no argument from this quarter If you conclude from this disc that "the more the merrier" is perhaps not the best philosophy to apply to the baritone saxophone. A small dose of this record, however, or large doses of any of these saxophonists' respective solo material, will reveal some of the strongest post-bop baritone voices. Originally assembled to pay tribute to Gerry Mulligan at the 1996 Jazz and Image Festival in Rome, the Cuber-led Three Baritone Saxophone Band recorded for the first and only time on this similarly intentioned studio date.

"Line for Lyons," the album's opening track, works best, featuring careful arranging from Cuber that creates a colorful illusion of a wider instrumentation. While it's sometimes tricky to tell the impressive modern sounds of Brignola and Smulyan apart in this context, Cuber's individual personality shines through, remaining the most expressive and comfortingly straight-ahead of the three. It's apparent that Cuber's long history of juggling jazz, soul and rock/pop gigs has yielded a universal approach, one that has influenced many modern baritone saxophonists.

December 23, 2008 · 0 comments


Bill Charlap: Rocker

"Rocker" is a must-have track on a CD containing ballad arrangements that turn most of them into plodding yawners. However, Gerry Mulligan's classic "Rocker," the opening number, is the kind of flawless performance you would expect from a trio like Charlap's that has been together for many years. Utilizing Mulligan's arrangement, Charlap craftily negotiates the well-known theme with a ringing tone, and then solos lucidly, mixing compressed, slithery passages with tumbling extended lines, all the while maintaining a persistent yet unhurried pace. Bassist Peter Washington is crisp and steadfast in support, and Kenny Washington's drumming is impeccable, with both his stick and brush work perfectly timed and wonderfully receptive. Unexplainably, many of the other arrangements are nowhere near the quality and effectiveness of "Rocker." This CD serves as a prime example of why the purchase of individual tracks has become such a popular alternative to buying complete CDs in contrast to those attending a set or two of Charlap's Village Vanguard engagement in September 2003, who had to take the bad with the good.

August 09, 2008 · 0 comments


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