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Jasmine Lovell-Smith's Towering Poppies: Fortune Songs (2012)

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Jasmine Lovell-Smith's Towering Poppies: Fortune Songs How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Plenty of artists play soprano saxophone, either as their weapon of choice or as an auxiliary axe, yet the instrument's inherent gift for melody is still under-explored in jazz. John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
used it to probe deep into the recesses of sound itself, Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
takes it on stratospheric flights, darting and daring all the while, and Sam Newsome
Sam Newsome
Sam Newsome

saxophone
works it to its limits through the use of extended techniques. Branford Marsalis
Branford Marsalis
Branford Marsalis
b.1960
saxophone
, perhaps the most notable practitioner on the soprano saxophone today, tends to lean toward a modern menacing sound, classical sense of aural construction or a NOLA-based, Sidney Bechet
Sidney Bechet
Sidney Bechet
1897 - 1959
sax, soprano
-influenced style when he puts his tenor down and picks up this horn. All of these artists have done wonders for the soprano saxophone by touching on its potential in different ways, but Jasmine Lovell-Smith doesn't buy into any of their lines of thinking. Instead, she invokes the lyricism clause that exists on the soprano's birth certificate.

Lovell-Smith, who originally hails from New Zealand and relocated to New York, bucks the faster-is-better and take-the-instrument-into-the-stratosphere trends that are so prevalent among soprano players. She prefers a measured approach that allows her to speak in quietude. Plaintive strains and peaceable melodies prevail throughout Fortune Songs. Lovell-Smith marries her modest, middle register musings with trumpeter Big Chief Russell Moore's even keel trumpet as both horn players take their time in taking in the surroundings.

The music can be bittersweet, yet rhythmically upbeat ("Confidence (One)") or loose and exploratory in nature ("Darkling I Listen"). Bassist Patrick Reid
Patrick Reid
b.1983
bass
distinguishes himself when the music leans toward the rhythmically amorphous, while pianist Cat Toren tends to shine in more stable and sunny places ("Lover's Knot"). Drummer Kate Pittman is perhaps the most flexible of the bunch, adding shades of color and providing firm direction.

Fortune Songs isn't a hit-you-over-the-head album, but the music makes a real impact nonetheless. This is visceral stuff that seeps into the pores and the heart.

Track Listing: Confidence (One); Darkling I Listen; Let Go Be Free; Confidence (Two); Seven Of Swords; A Nest To Fly; Lover's Knot; When The Tide Is Right.

Personnel: Jasmine Lovell-Smith: soprano saxophone; Russell Moore: trumpet; Cat Toren: piano; Patrick Reid: bass; Kate Pittman: drums.

Record Label: Paintbox Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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