Adam Kolker: Reflections (2011)
Possessed of immense talent, unlike many of his peers Kolker does not so much play as caress his instrument with his warm, diaphanous breath. Whether he is playing flutes, clarinets or tenor saxophonehis main instrument, here at leasthe employs such softness of touch and expression that he seems to make love to his instrument. Kolker plays long meandering lines that he seems to break up only when expressive thoughts are complete. Then he returns with a line, equally long, that seems to sing in response to the one he just played earlier. The result is that Kolker's soli seem to be imaginary conversations that appear to be carried out between characters in his songs. "Soon It's Gonna Rain" and "Reflection" become beautifully told stories as well as exquisite painterly images, all rolled into one. Their characters are in motion, caressing one another, whispering sweet nothings while assisting in the unfurling of their stories.
Even when Kolker joins forces with voice artiste Judi Silvano, on "Boscarob," he merely substitutes one of the composition's characters with Silvano's voice, as they skitter and slide and jabber their way through Silvano's beguiling song. Silvano is, of course, her inimitable selfand the glue that holds the song together, as it careens its way to a startling ending, with Kolker holding his own, and playing an excellent foil to the singer. Again, on "Nature Boy," it is vocalist, Kay Matsukawa and Kolker who turn the classic Eden Abhez chart into a truly gorgeous mystery kept alive by her magical voice and playing that is both majestic and memorable.
Even Thelonious Monk's rarely played masterpiece, "Let's Call This," and drummer Billy Mintz's "Flight" seem to fit Kolker's sensibilityor at least he makes them fit as if they were his own, on this album of unforgettable splendor.
Track Listing: Soon It's Gonna Rain; Let's Call This; Reflection; Boscarob; Flight; Song Along The Way; Fez; Nature Boy; Kevin's Birthday Blues; Flight (Reprise).
Personnel: Adam Kolker: tenor saxophone, flute, alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet; John Hébert: bass; Billy Mintz: drums; John Abercrombie: guitar (1, 9); Russ Lossing: piano (3, 4, 6); Judy Silvano: voice (4); Kay Matsukawa: voice (8).
Record Label: Sunnyside Records