Jason Rigby: The Sage (2009)
The sophomore release of New York-based saxophonist/composer Jason Rigby features him as a unique new voice that deserves wider attention. His deep, full-bodied tenor sound and his inside-outside jazz vocabulary reference sax greats such as John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter, while his elastic sense of time sounds closer to the fluid playfulness of Ornette Coleman. His nuanced compositions and compelling experiments in instrumentation enrich his jazz language with ideas and colors that hark back to composers Béla Bartok, Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss.
Rigby leads a cast of stellar players: trumpeter Russ Johnson, keyboardist Mike Hoboler and bassist Cameron Brownall of whom played on his debut Translucent Space (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2006)along with drummer Gerald Cleaver. The quintet opens with "Magenta," where the first phrases highlight playful exchanges between Rigby and Johnson, echoing the telepathic interplay of Coleman and trumpeter Don Cherry until Rigby takes the lead with a burning but well-built solo that rides on the aggressive rhythm section. They continue with the hard-swinging "Crux," which features the tight and energetic playing of Cameron and Brown with forceful solos by Rigby and Johnson.
The gentle "Shift of Color" features Rigby on flute and Johnson on muted trumpet, creating beautiful rippling sonorities with the sustained soundscapes of Hoboler on the rhodes. Johnson opens the title track over a swinging, funky groove, and is soon joined by Rigby and Hoboler, who add momentum and velocity to the hard groove. "Slip" keeps the funky-based theme, this time using a blues scale as a vehicle for melodic and nuanced solos by Cameron, Rigby on soprano sax and Johnson on muted trumpet, all playing in free-form and open harmonics that reference the early fusion experiments of Miles Davis.
"The Archer" is a dynamic, slow-burning composition that features Johnson again on an evocative muted trumpet that contrasts with Rigby's assertive and muscular tenor sax. The quintet concludes this masterful showcase with the lyrical tone poem "Jealous Moon," featuring the inspiring interplay of Rigby and Johnson, as both lead the beautiful composition into its dream-like coda.
Track Listing: Magneta; Crux; Shift of Color; The Sage; Tone Poem; Slip; The Archer; Jealous Moon
Personnel: Jason Rigby: tenor and soprano saxophone, flute; Russ Johnson: trumpet; Mike Holober: rhodes; Cameron Brown: bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums