How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
From the opening bass lines of "Color Line" on Azure Intention, it is evident that saxophonist Lynn Baker's Quartet comes out swinging and grooving. But there is also a captivating sense of sophistication, thoughtfully played into the selections.
Bakerwho doubles deftly on both soprano and tenor saxophonescomposed all of Azure Intention's eight tracks, each performed with enough time and space as to allow the musicians to contribute without seeming rushed. The quartet has been gigging around Denver enough that they are a cohesive unit; hence, they have mastered that elusive ability to change tempos, where the quality and quantity of their playing time is revealed.
Like Baker, who has top credentials as a teacher, pianist Reggie Berg has a formal scholastic background, as well as intensive classical training; the same can also be said of drummer Paul Mullikin. Bassist Bijoux Barbosa hails from Brazil, and his innate sense of rhythm and tempo are evident throughout. Everyone in the quartet complements each other extremely well, and the music flows along with auditory ease.
"Into the Blues" is a study in complex syncopation that then bursts into a joyous swing, which seems to define the quartet as well. "Happy New Year" possesses a festive Caribbean groove, where all are welcome to sway in the breeze. "Appalachian Shuffle" kicks into a soulful groove, which Baker carries well on tenor, giving it an authentic R&B sound, as does Berg on piano.
Azure Intentions, is a thinking person's album, where high expectations are not disappointed; connect with the message, the content will be appeased.
Track Listing: Color Line; Lament; Into the Blues; Happy New Year; David's Tune; Azure Intention; Appalachian Shuffle; Spinning.
Personnel: Lynn Baker: soprano and tenor saxophones, congas; Reggie Berg: piano; Bijoux Barbosa: acoustic and fretless electric bass; Paul Mullikin: drums.