Bobby Few / Avram Fefer: Sanctuary (2006)
The duo of pianist Bobby Few and saxophonist Avram Fefer has been well documented for several years now, but this first quartet date is a cut above the rest in terms of recorded sound. Even given CIMP's high standards, the set is wonderfully transparent and gritty by turn, at just the right moments, often within the same piece of music. The recording seems to be a bit less dry than others on the label, the added bit of room atmosphere allowing the sound to breathe and bloom.
The music takes full advantage of the space in which it's played. The piece in honor of the much lamented saxophonist Frank Lowe ("For Frank ) presents this group in a soulful old-time herky-jerky groove. The tune builds to a gospel-tinged frenzy before subsiding into the mercuriality from which it arose. The instruments are spread across the sound stage in such a way that every detail is audible, even if seemingly far back in the mix.
To try to pigeonhole the playing here would be foolish; both leaders demonstrate allegiance to New Thing aesthetics, but even the multivalence of approach implied by such categorization goes a long way toward rendering it void. There's plenty of swing here: bassist Hill Greene and drummer Newman Taylor Baker provide thick, fat-bottom support that morphs effortlessly between R&B and hard bop rhetoric. "Club Foot raises the stakes, bringing a higher degree of compositional prowess to an already chops-heavy set. Few's chordal sweeps and Fefer's older-than-years honk, slide and vibrato form a beautiful pair, as usual, and this set is sophisticatedly raunchy fun from start to finish.
Track Listing: Far to Few; Sanctuary; for Frank (Lowe); Club Foot; Boobree; City Life.
Personnel: Bobby Few: piano; Avram Fefer: soprano & tenor saxophones; Hilliard Greene: bass; Newman Taylor Baker: drums.