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The John Temmerman Quartet: Live in Evanston: John's Mixed Bag (2009)

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The John Temmerman Quartet: Live in Evanston: John's Mixed Bag How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Let's hear it for the mainstream, grassroots jazz with a day job! Current Skokie, Illinois native John Temmerman was who Tip O'Neill might have been thinking of when he opined that "all politics [and everything else] is local." The saxophonist's live recording, Live in Evanston: John's Mixed Bag, is an affair local to his Skokie home. Balancing music with a day job and providing care to an ailing loved one keeps Temmerman close to home; if that doesn't make him the regular guy next door, nothing does.

Precious few artists are able to support themselves with music, much less jazz music. Even fewer are those who have a day job and are as exceptionally talented as Temmerman. The most attractive element in Temmerman's talent pool is his universality. His playing betrays the post-bop influences which can be heard in compositions such as "Plan B Downsized" and "Fundamental Dreamer." While Temmerman is respectful of John Coltrane, he is not controlled by that master. Instead, Temmerman claims Dexter Gordon as a major influence with definite elements of King Curtis, Junior Parker and the Texas Tenor tradition.

What does all that mean? Temmerman has a tremendous, catholic tone, one that easily competes with and occasionally overpowers his rhythm section. He bar walks with trumpeter Steve Thomas on Horace Silver's "Sister Sadie" and Eddie Harris' funky "Freedom Jazz Dance," making both performances juggernauts, insistently funky and propelled with groove. He also touches the nostalgia bone with a straight-ahead "Blue Moon," a potent "Norwegian Wood," and a splendidly languid "Stolen Moments."

Temmerman proves efficient and practical with his quartet rhythm section anchored with Neal Alger's fine guitar. More portable than the piano and more challenging as a rhythm section piece and solo voice, the guitar provides the perfect, delicate foil to Temmerman's enormous sound. Recordings like Live in Evanston are successful because of their simplicity and familiarity. These two characteristics make this recording very listenable and apt for repeat listens.

Track Listing: Plan B Downsized; Sister Sadie; Blue Moon; Spooky; An Aging Dream; Sooner of Later; Fundamental Dreamer; Norwegian Wood; Freedom Jazz Dance; Stolen Moments; Just a Closer Walk with Thee.

Personnel: John Temmerman: tenor and soprano saxophones; Neal Alger: guitar; Steven Hashimoto: bass; Rusty Jones, Steve Magnone: drums; Steve Thomas: trumpet.

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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