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Live From New York

June 2004

By Published: June 12, 2004

Baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett brought his bluesy, hard swinging quartet into Sweet Rhythm to get May off to a blazing start. Joined by pianist John Hicks, bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Lee Pearson, the World Saxophone Quartet’s big horn blower showed off his impressive range and extensive vocabulary in a set that turned the house inside out. Beginning with Don Pullen’s up-tempo blues 1529 Gunn Street, the saxophonist explored the farthest reaches of his instrument –sounding like a roaring lion one moment and a purring kitten the next — in a circular breathing tour de force duet with Pearson’s wildly ecstatic drumming that followed one of Hicks’ patented multiclimactic piano solos over Lundy’s walking bass.

Lundy bowed the opening of Bluiett’s beautiful arrangement of I Believe I Can Fly, on which the baritonist delicately displayed the tenderness he’s able to express in the bottom register of his weighty horn. He extended that mood on his own rumbling, quaking gospel blues, Song Service, which featured some authentic church piano from Hicks. The dark beauty of the leader’s big rich sound came to the fore on Sing Me A Song Everlasting, another lyrical Pullen line that inspired some of Hicks most opulent playing. Bluiett finished the set playing wooden bass flute on the funky Hip Hop Drop.

McCoy Tyner ended a two-week engagement with guests at the Iridium on Sunday, May 16th with an inspired set that had the teeming audience screaming for more. Starting the set off performing Angelina, a rhythmic Latin tinged original, with his current trio, featuring bassist Charnett Moffet and drummer Eric Harland, the pianist poured out torrents of notes with amazing articulation and pulsating power, rivaling his most electrifying performances with the great John Coltrane Quartet or any of his own exciting groups. After the introduction of Pharaoh Sanders and Ravi Coltrane to thunderous applause, the quintet launched into an uplifting half an hour version of Tyner’s African Village, with the pianist maintaining the previous song’s high energy level as the two saxophonists played the memorable melody in unison before Sanders took off on his own individual exploration of the outer reaches of his horn’s tonal regions. Coltrane’s solo, though more measured and less energetic, was satisfying for its intelligent use of the composition’s main motif and his own instrumental voice, which is personal and reminiscent of his father at the same time. Moffet and Harland also demonstrated their own original approaches to their instruments on extended solos. The evening concluded with an exhilarating rendition of the leader’s classic Blues On The Corner as an encore.

~ Russ Musto


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