How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
The tenor saxophone has earned a reputation over the years as the wrecking ball of the reed family, but Michael Pedicin doesn't seem to buy into that line of thinking. While Pedicin can knock down walls and wreak havoc with his tenor if he so chooses, he rarely goes to town in this fashion. He'd rather play the role of the musical soul stirrer than the storming brute and it makes perfect sense, since beauty becomes him.
He painted himself as a sensitive soul on Ballads...Searching For Peace (Self Produced, 2011), which served as a tribute to tenor icon John Coltrane
's Ballads (Impulse!, 1963), and this record furthers that notion. While Live @ The Loft has more variation in stylistic topography than its predecessor, it's still built around medium and slow tempo vehicles and Coltrane still looms large on the horizon. Six of the eight tracks included on this disc have a direct connection to Coltrane, with the inclusion of three classics from the legendary saxophonistan unusually slow "Impressions," "Like Sonny," and an album-ending "Africa"and three other numbers that he covered, but Pedicin's fascination with this legendary figure doesn't manifest itself too much in his playing. Michael Pedicin is no John Coltrane clone and conviction, rather than flat out imitation, seems to be the tie that binds Pedicin to his hero.
The sidemen on Live @ The Loft, save for pianist Jim Ridl
, are all carry-overs from Pedicin's previous recording, but this one alteration is enough to change the make-up of the band. Ridl brings a supportive, yet feisty quality into the music and, while he threatens to upstage Pedicin in the solo category in several places (i.e. "Impressions," "Midnight Voyage," and "Like Sonny"), the saxophonist rises to the challenge and usually comes out on equal footing.
Strolling swing ("Midnight Voyage"), waltzing fare ("Song For My Mother") and hip, yet menacing intentions ("Africa") all come into the picture, but Pedicin still seems most genuine when placed in quiet settings. "Say It (Over And Over Again") and "I Want To Talk About You" give pause to admire his sensitivity and straight-to-the-heart delivery, and the sound of his saxophone on these numbers lingers in the ears long after the excellent Live @ The Loft has come to a close.
Track Listing: Theme For Ernie; Impressions; Midnight Voyage; Say It (Over And Over Again); Like Sonny; Song For My Mother; I Want To Talk About You; Africa.
Personnel: Michael Pedicin: tenor saxophone; Johnnie Valentino: guitar; Jim Ridl: piano; Andy Lalasis: acoustic bass; Bob Shomo: drums.