Solo saxophone recitals bring to mind cartoon saxophonist Lisa Simpson being dismissed from band practice for doing her own thing. Sure we all like to think of ourselves as Lisa, Sonny Rollins, Evan Parker, John Butcher, Joe McPhee, or Jack Wright blowing notes into the great unknown, but the solo setting is one lonely gig.
The trouble is one of imagination. Cursed is the soloist who pauses, sometimes to think, to breathe, to find the nearest exit. Saxophonist Eric Barber, who has developed his technique along with a his study of jazz, classical, and world music, can draw from multiple sources for improvisation. Barber has played with Nels Cline, Vinny Golia, Wadada Leo Smith, Jeff Kaiser and in the electric Balkan band Balkana.
This disc was beautifully recorded in the near perfect acoustical space of the Maybeck Recital Hall. Barber draws from Indian music freely, repeating patterns and ideas to keep the music in a continual flow. His complex structures and multiphonics suggest an infinite series of patterns and directions for him to follow.
The disc opens with the overblown tenor saxophone playing on “Taksim,” bouncing notes and vibrations throughout the room. He follows with “Dark Mirror,”an impressive mathematical construction for soprano saxophone that favors repeated patterns which sound as if Barber is employing multitracking (he isn’t) .
The joy here is the continual flow of ideas and music. From the light touch of his “Inner Conversation” to the blop blop playing on “Rubric,” these 47 minutes of music are a continual discovery of unfolding sound.
Personnel: Eric Barber - Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone.