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Live Reviews

Tchicai/Kohlhase/Fewell Trio at Brookline Tai-Chi, Brookline, MA

By Published: May 7, 2006
Charlie Kohlhase, who is based in Boston, performs with and leads several groups of varied size. Some, such as Saxophone Support Group, are multiple-sax ensembles with no rhythm section, and he shares with Tchicai an impressive ability to work out the roles of lead and harmonizer as the two play together. Kohlhase co-led a quintet with Tchicai that in 1999 released Life Overflowing (Nada Music). Kohlhase writes and performs his own originals, although they were sparsely represented that evening. Kohlhase is perhaps best known for his work on the baritone sax, playing solos in a fluid and agile fashion more associated with the higher-voiced saxophones. He played baritone for the first half and returned to it for a long Tchicai-composed piece toward the end. The rest of the time, the versatile multi-saxophonist played alto, except for his tenor stint for the final number.

The one announced Kohlhase composition was "Consolation Cake , which is also on Good Night Songs. The piece opened with a swinging, catchy tune with a Monkish turn of phrase. The musicians then deconstructed the tune's phrases, sometimes simultaneously, in a stop-and-start rhythm. On the selection that followed (composer not announced), Kohlhase played a moving, melismatic solo.

Toward the end of the evening, the trio played another multi-section Tchicai-composed piece, which started with a hard-bop-flavored tune on which Tchicai both played and sang scat. The second section had a contrasting, haunting pentatonic melody that sounded Japanese. It then returned to the first melody for solo choruses by all three and ended with the saxophones making the whispering-wind sound the first Tchicai medley. The final selection of the evening was upbeat, with Tchicai playing bass clarinet and singing a few light-hearted lyrics.

Related Reviews:

Tchicai/Kohlhase/Fewell, Good Night Songs, (Boxholder Records, 2006)

Tchicai/Fewell/Tracanna/Dalla Porta/Manzi, Big Chief Dreaming, (Soul Note, 2005)

Tchicai/Kohlhase Quintet, Life Overflowing (Nada Music, 1999)

Visit John Tchicai, Charlie Kohlhase, and Garrison Fewell on the Web.

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