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Tom Gullion: Cat's Cradle

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On his new album on Britain's Naim label, Chicago tenor saxophonist Tom Gullion exemplifies one of the qualities too often missing among younger jazz musicians: patience. This is a supremely self-assured, unhurried effort emphasizing mood, tone and timing over mere technique and speed.

Gullion, who played in J.J. Johnson's band in his early twenties, has a rich, gentle tenor sound that owes a lot to middle-period Coltrane; which is to say he plays loping, harmonically complex lines that remain highly melodic. Like Coltrane, too, his compositions are thoughtful, even, dare I say, spiritual journeys to exotic musical realms. There's a Spanish tinge to several tunes here, perhaps owing to Gullion's having lived several years in Spain. Throw in a solid cover of Trane's "Wise One," and it's clear where Gullion's head is.

There's also terrific interplay and empathy between Gullion and his estimable bandmates John Moulder on guitar, bassist Rob Amster (from vocalist Kurt Elling's band) and heavyweight drummer Paul Wertico (from Pat Metheny's group). This is a band squarely on the same page and the results are very satisfying.

Web sites: http://homepage.interaccess.com/~tomg http://www.naim-audio.com

Personnel:

Tom Gullion, tenor and soprano sax; John Moulder, guitar; Rob Amster, bass; Paul Wertico, drums.

Record Label: Naim Label

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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