Jane Ira Bloom: Wingwalker (2011)
Saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom is a first-class improviser and composer, and delivers a compelling case for herself on Wingwalker. Full of inventive original compositions, fine performances, and Bloom's rich, natural tone, this record is a standout. Although the soprano saxophone is less frequently heard, this record boldly demands its place at the table with its curved-bell brethren.
Bloom takes composition credit for all but one track. Even so, Wingwalker has a collaborative overall feel to it. All of the members of her quartet stand out by necessity, in service to her complex and inventive compositions. Drummer Bobby Previte, in particular, does yeoman's work, keeping some rhythmically challenging tunes moving forward. "Life on Cloud 8," features a lot of tempo changes, as well as some odd breaks. His drumming is tight, and well-matched to the music. Dawn Clement supports the melodies with firm, insistently rhythmic piano chops, notably on the title track, and proves herself to also be a first-rate improviser. Mark Helias' bass work is solid, forceful and perfect for the set.
The lone standard, "I Could Have Danced All Night," is played by Bloom, alone, at a slow, wistful pace that suggests the deep thoughts of the last pining patron in a café, hoping against the odds that the night will not end in solitude. It's a beautiful rendition.
Wingwalker is an excellent all around record: a serious effort by a serious musician and her equally first-rate collaborators.
A final note, about the recording. This album captures the fullness, color and texture of the soprano horn in a fashion that is rarely reproduced this well, particularly in the horn's lower register. If the engineer was making special adjustments in an attempt to meet the needs of the instrument, he succeeded admirably.
Track Listing: Her Exacting Light; Life on Cloud 8; Ending Red Songs; Freud's Convertible; Airspace; Frontiers in Science; Rooftops Speak Dreams; Rookie; Adjusting to Midnight; Live Sports; Wingwalker; I Could Have Danced All Night.
Personnel: Jane Ira Bloom: soprano saxophone, live electronics; Dawn Clement: Fender Rhodes; Mark Helias: bass; Bobby Previte: drums.