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Roger Rosenberg: Baritonality (2009)

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Roger Rosenberg: Baritonality Even in the day when the sound of baritone voices like Ernie Cacares, Harry Carney
Harry Carney
Harry Carney
1910 - 1974
sax, baritone
Charlie Fowlkes and Joe Temperley
Joe Temperley
Joe Temperley
b.1929
saxophone
streaked across the sonic stratosphere, solos were graceful, granular and short. It was only when Cecil Payne
Cecil Payne
Cecil Payne
1922 - 2007
sax, baritone
Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
1927 - 1996
sax, baritone
, Pepper Adams
Pepper Adams
Pepper Adams
1930 - 1986
sax, baritone
and a handful of other players up until Hamiet Bluiett
Hamiet Bluiett
Hamiet Bluiett
b.1940
sax, baritone
, John Surman
John Surman
John Surman
b.1944
saxophone
and Howard Johnson began to growl and bellow loudly that significant soloing on the baritone horn came to be featured at length. Bluiett also developed a significant catalogue with the World Saxophone Quartet
World Saxophone Quartet
World Saxophone Quartet

band/orchestra
and on his own. It is high time that Roger Rosenberg is added to this list.

Although he has graced several musical projects for Steely Dan
Steely Dan
Steely Dan
b.1972
band/orchestra
, Rosenberg's name may not be as well-known as it should be. Now, with Baritonality, he has made a generous contribution to the musical literature of the baritone. The record seems to say that Roger Rosenberg has arrived, with pomp and circumstance. His tone is commanding, but there are times when he can bring a huge velvet breath to the tone of his phrases and lines. This is almost like what Ben Webster
Ben Webster
Ben Webster
1909 - 1973
sax, tenor
did with his big voice, marked with warm gushes of breath at the end of his musical lines.

There is the other matter of the challenging gravity and linearity of the baritone saxophone. Still, Rosenberg often employs rapid glissandos and an ever-so-gentle vibrato, as he dances and sings his way through the records' striking repertoire. His waltz, "Three for B," and "Someone to Watch over Me"—a wonderful solo baritone excursion—both feature some of his most memorable playing on this deeply masculine horn. On "43rd St. Mama," Rosenberg shifts the focus of his breath slightly, so as to play in short, snorting lines, exploring the very bottom register of the baritone. This is an oblique tribute to the bluesy preaching of Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
—in a vastly different frequency range, but very effective.

Rosenberg puts down his Big Brass only briefly. On one occasion—the elegiac "Mike, in remembrance of the late Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker
1949 - 2007
sax, tenor
—he exchanges the baritone for the bass clarinet, while on "Paradox," he takes up the soprano saxophone for an elastic journey. Back on baritone, Rosenberg blows his way with beauty and sensitivity through "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most." Guitarist Peter Bernstein
Peter Bernstein
Peter Bernstein
b.1967
guitar
replaces drummer Jeff Brillinger and is omnipresent throughout this track, soloing with harmonic ingenuity and grace—a master stroke on the part of producer, Steely Dan's Walter Becker
Walter Becker
Walter Becker
b.1950
guitar
.

So also is the inclusion of George Gershwin
George Gershwin
George Gershwin
1898 - 1937
composer/conductor
and Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
1896 - 1983
composer/conductor
's "Someone To Watch Over Me," a tender solo plea from the gravity of the baritone. And "Birds and Tranes" is absolutely breathtaking; an apt closing and showcase for Rosenberg, together with pianist Mark Soskin
Mark Soskin
Mark Soskin
b.1953
piano
and bassist Chip Jackson.


Track Listing: Baritonility; Three for B; 43rd St. Mama; Mike; Paradox; Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most; The 8th Day; Someone To Watch Over Me; Birds and Trees.

Personnel: Roger Rosenberg: baritone and soprano saxophone, bass clarinet; Mark Soskin: piano; Chip Jackson: bass; Jeff Brillinger: drums (1-5, 7-10); Peter Bernstein: guitar (6).

Record Label: Sunnyside Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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