For every John Coltrane, there is a Hank Mobley; every Dizzy Gillespie has a Dizzy Reece. Not every tenor saxophonist can be Joe Lovano these days, especially when so very few listeners follow current jazz happenings.
Players like Lovano and tenor saxophonist Michael Adkins, who are technically adept at their instrument, tend to take a back seat to either the innovative avant types or those who play caramelized pop. When an artist like Michael Adkins releases a disc like Infotation, no alarms go off. He doesn't perform with a DJ or invite a guest vocalist. He just plays eight original tracks with his trio.
The music is immediately agreeable and gratifying.
You can suggest his playing comes from early Sonny Rollins, with a large sound that is comfortable like a favorite sweater. Repeated spins of this 2000 session knit together a fine swing with a relaxed bop manner. Adkins, born in Ontario, plays behind the beat on the title track, suggesting Rollins again but also a bit of Coleman Hawkins. All the while drummer Ian Froman churns the waters.
Simple sessions like this one, with three players working in such unison, are quite special. Besides the title track, "Tres Olive features Adkins' partners, Froman and bassist John Hebert, exercising the pulse as the saxophonist strolls outward. The groove here and throughout is subversively simple.
This just happens to be one fine jazz recording made five years ago. I wonder what Adkins is up to today...
Personnel: Michael Adkins: tenor saxophone; John Hebert: bass; Ian Froman: drums.