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Keith Oxman: Dues in Progress (2006)

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Keith Oxman: Dues in Progress How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Keith Oxman's straight-ahead sextet interprets this program of standards and original compositions with a veteran's touch. Trumpeter Marcus Hampton sits in for "C.H.O.C., oboist Peter Cooper for "Darn That Dream. With his cohesive ensemble in sync, the tenor saxophonist delivers a clear message.

Keith Oxman is from Denver. His thirty years' experience in the jazz world includes an extensive stint with the Buddy Rich Big Band. His "Dues in Progress reflects the same kind of soulful swing that Rich championed. Oxman's tenor leaps out in front of his ensemble, taking off with hard rips and free-flowing spurts that coalesce with the actions of his musical partners. Everyone works together seamlessly and cohesively, still taking advantage of plenty of solo opportunities.

Oxman interprets Joe Henderson's "Serenity with a quartet, allying himself with the group's straight-ahead coolness. His casual tenor rollicks with the song's playful appearance, while pianist Chip Stephens applies dramatic undercurrents. Oxman's duo interpretation of Thirty-One for Strayhorn works with tender piano accompaniment, which slows with meaningful dialogue. The piece represents an artist's view of hearts on fire. Two and Fro is a brief, up-tempo tenor/drum duet where notes and accents fly in all directions.

Romps such as "Anna Kate, "Cap'n Kidd and "Two Wheelin' Nathan find the sextet reveling in a standard straight-ahead format that keeps the fires burning. For most of the session, however, those fires are maintained at low heat, keeping a constant vigil on the ensemble aspect of Oxman's program and ensuring that all points are connected properly. Stephens' piano and the leader's tenor provide the hottest soloing, and the shifting ensembles surround each profile with counterpoint that tucks the music into a suitable envelope of jazz history.

Track Listing: I Hear a Rhapsody; Susan; Dues in Progress; Anna Kate; Capn Kidd; Darn That Dream; Two and Fro; The Masquerade is Over; Serenity; Two Wheelin Nathan; C.H.O.C.; Thirty-One for Strayhorn.

Personnel: Keith Oxman: tenor saxophone; Chip Stephens: piano; Ken Walker: bass; Todd Reid: drums; Curtis Fuller: trombone; Al Hood, Marcus Hampton (11): trumpet; Peter Cooper: oboe (6).

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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