Andy Middleton: Reinventing the World (2003)
On this octet set (five horns plus a rhythm section), Reinventing the World explores clean and gorgeous harmonics, with much solo room for Middleton on tenor and soprano saxophones, and Kenny Wheeler on trumpet. A sharp rhythm section backs the cool, clear harmonies, and they adjust nicely to the different approaches of the two principal solists. Middle goes after his improvisations with concise and precisely-placed notes. Wheeler – I've never heard him sound as compelling – stretches things out like taffy, approaching at times a breaking point.
Then, seven tunes in, along comes "Naugahide," giving featured trombonist Nils Wogram some room – too briefly – to strut his solo stuff. His is a soft-tufted bone sound on this inspired and quirky interlude, and if the CD has a weakness, it's that he isn't featured more.
Additionally, pianist Henry Hey proves himself a top notch accompanist, not calling a lot of attention to himself, but poking well-placed flourishes here and there into the mix. Hit the repeat button on "Three Mile Island" for a good example of his – indeed, the entire rhythm section's – contribution to the overall sound.
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Track Listing: Ode to Saro Wiwa, Les Beaux, Three Mile Island, Gaviotas, Federico, At the Foot of the Hill, Naugahide, Bass Intro, Atlas Shrugged, X's for Eyes
Personnel: Andy Middleton--saxophones; Sheila Cooper--saxophone; Kenny Wheeler--trumpet and glufelhorn; Nils Wogram--trombone; Darcy Hepner--clarinet and bass clarinet; Henry Hey--piano; John Hebert--bass; Owen Howard--drums
Record Label: Intuition