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Sam Newsome: Blue Soliloquy (2010)

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Sam Newsome: Blue Soliloquy How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The soprano saxophone is one mean mistress; temperamental, demanding, and unforgiving. Few have mastered her, with Sidney Bechet
Sidney Bechet
Sidney Bechet
1897 - 1959
sax, soprano
, John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
, and Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy
1934 - 2004
sax, soprano
coming to mind. Saxophonist Sam Newsome,late of the Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard
b.1962
trumpet
Quintet, has stepped up to provide his Das Wohltemperierte Klavier of the instrument in Soliloquy—Solo Works for Soprano Saxophone. Strongly recalling Bobby Watson
Bobby Watson
Bobby Watson
b.1953
sax, alto
's solo alto saxophone recital, This Little Light of Mine (Red Records, 1999), Blue Soliloquy researches and ultimately expands the tonal capability of the soprano saxophone, revealing some very interesting treatments along the way.

Newsome provides his collection of solo pieces a "blue" theme, all titles containing the word. Looming large in the spirit of the recording is Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
, always a darling of soprano saxophonists (think Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy
1934 - 2004
sax, soprano
and his fine Monk recordings). The collection closes with an inspired reading of Monk's "Blue Monk," appropriate for the theme of the disc. Coming before that coda is a multicultural survey of styles and traditions. "Blues for Robert Johnson" and "Blue Mongolia" employ Philip Glass
Philip Glass
Philip Glass
b.1937
composer/conductor
-like alternating notes mimicking the horn's natural propensity for vibrato. "Blue Swagger" summons Bechet's expressive tone infused with Coltrane-esque spiritual squeals.

It is Newsome's travel to the old world that truly compel. "Blue Beijing" modulates four-note figures through a variety of colored paper tonal expressions to a pronounced climax. "Mandela's Blue Mbira" is Newsome's equivalent of picking piano strings with a plectrum. He evokes the instruments percussive nature, employing African rhythms and producing a dance piece. "Blue Lacy Coleman" flies in and lands amongst Newsome's musical safari to pay tribute to the post-Coltrane liberators of the saxophone: Steve Lacy and Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
. "Blue Pulpit," "Blue Sunday," and "Blue Hum of the Holy Breath" are all full of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Newsome showing that he is never far from the source.



Solo reeds recitals are dicey propositions. They can all too easily devolve into self-indulgent yammering. Newsome saves himself from this fate by judicious performance choices and a keen improvisatory ear to the world.


Track Listing: Blues For Robert Johnson; Blue Mongolia; Blue Swagger; 24 Tones; Blue Beijing; Mandela's Blue Mbira; Blue Safari; Throat-Singing Blues; Blue Lacy Coleman; Blue Pulpit; Blue Doppler Effect; Blue Sunday; Blue Bamboo; Blue Hum of the Holy Breath; Blue Monk.

Personnel: Sam Newsome: soprano saxophone.

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Beyond Jazz


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