Rocco John: Don't Wait Too Long... (2007)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
So much of the jazz on CDs these days sounds so much the same, so that when a disc such as this one is released, on which the music clearly speaks with its own voice, one must take notice.
Saxophonist Rocco John has studied with Sam Rivers and Lee Konitz and his distinctly apparent ability to both compose and improvise in the jazz idiom clearly reflects the lessons learned from these masters. On Don't Wait Too Long..., the altoist adds young trumpeter Mike Irwin (who has been playing with the group during the past since 2006) to his longstanding trio of a decadeAaron Keane on bass and Dalius Naujokaitis on drums and percussion. The piano-less quartet, while following in the free blowing spirit of Ornette Coleman, also demonstrates a strong connection to the music of the bebop era and beyond.
The compositions on the date, all of them the leader's (but enhanced greatly by each sideman's personal statements), have a narrative quality that adds to the character of the entire CD, with each track behaving like a chapter in a novel; an attribute underlined by the opening "Overture and closing "Finale different takes on the same theme that dramatically use space to create tension and release in a manner similar to Eric Dolphy's Out To Lunch and Jackie McLean's One Step Beyond.
While John's thick tone and angular improvisations display an indebtedness to the above two alto saxophonists, he leaves no room to doubt that he is his own man. Irwin's sound and solos seem to reflect a lineage developed from early Miles and Kenny Dorham and on freer passages a (perhaps unintentional) link to Don Cherry and Bill Dixon. All in all, there is more harmonic beauty and swinging pulse to the date than in most outside albums and a greater number of surprising moments than on a typical mainstream disc. Recommended.
Track Listing: Overture; Gentilesse; Indigo Joe; Leticia; Ming's Things; Bicycle for Two; Don't Wait Too Long; Cursory Rhyme; Finale.
Personnel: Rocco John: alto sax; Michael Irwin: trumpet; Aaron Keane: bass; Dalius Naujokaitis: drums.
Record Label: Coca
Style: Modern Jazz