Jimmy Greene: The Overcomer's Suite (2008)
Since turning heads at the 1996 Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition, saxophonist/composer Jimmy Greene has been making a name for himself as a prominent voice in the jazz world. Recorded live at the Firehouse 12, in Greene's hometown of Hartford, Connecticut, the music consists of the four-part title track ("Nelba's Victory," "Song for Isaiah," "Gethsemane" and "David Undaunted") as well as tributes to Ornette Coleman ("Anthem of Hope") and Jackie Mclean ("I'll Keep Loving You").
The emphasis on rhythm is front-and-center throughout this engaging set, with drummer Kendrick Scott, bassist Luques Curtis and pianist Xavier Davis setting one insatiable groove after another, creating a tumultuous foundation for Greene's exploratory approach. The saxophonist is capable of lengthy solos with flowing, interestingly developed ideas. Bold statements from Green's tenor on "Anthem of Hope" and soprano on "Song for Isaiah" are tossed, turned and stretched without losing musical focus.
Whether emphasizing drawn-out lyrical phrases ("Gethsemane") or linear flourishes ("David Undaunted"), Greene maintains a robust tone with an exuberant amount of confidence. This aggressive, yet warm approach is perhaps most obvious on "I'll Keep Loving You," a serene duet with pianist Davis to close the disc.
Greene's first-rate sidemen are given ample opportunity to shine. Davis displays dazzling technique and an inventive approach, bassist Curtis displays an unrelenting, deep-toned drive and drummer Scott pokes and prods to draw fits of inspiration from each soloist.
Available in digital download format only, The Overcomer's Suite is an exciting live set full of satisfyingly fresh musical surprises.
Track Listing: Anthem of Hope; Nelba's Victory; Song for Isaiah; Gethsemane; David Undaunted; I'll Keep Loving You.
Personnel: Jimmy Greene: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Xavier Davis: piano; Luques Curtis: bass; Kendrick Scott: drums.