Rahsaan Barber: Everyday Magic (2011)
An album title like Everyday Magic implies that inspired artistry can be as consistent and routine as the rising and setting of the sun and, while that's rarely the case, that philosophy basically rings true on this album. Saxophonist Rahsaan Barber put together a program of nine originals that detail his diversified stylistic portfolio and skills on a variety of horns.
Barber's brawny tenor saxophone sound comes to the fore early in the album ("Jubilee"), and his gritty exclamations heighten the intensity in this already high energy number. A Coltrane-like fervor finds its way into his playing on "Floodsong, " as shards of sound come flying in all directions, and drummer Nioshi Jackson furthers this connection with some Elvin Jones-like loping swing. Elsewhere, Barber investigates the gospel and R&B elements in jazz ("Manhattan Grace") with some help from guitarist Adam Agati, rocks out on a polished, backbeat driven number with '70s soul undertones ("Memphis Soul"), and engages in some spirited exchanges with his equally-talented brother, trombonist Roland Barber, on "Why So Blue?" The connection between both brothers clearly goes beyond blood; they also seem to share the same musical DNA.
While Rahsaan Barber's playing remains upbeat and energetic, regardless of the setting, he does exhibit different traits depending on which horn is in his hand. His tenor playing is tough-as-nails, with shrapnel flying out of the horn, while his alto work runneth over with soul. All of the rough edges are smoothed out when he picks up his soprano saxophone for a winning waltz ("Innocence"), and his flute playing on the slightly meandering, yet beautifully rendered "Adagio" is peaceful as can be.
On Everyday Magic, Rahsaan Barber proves to be a talented musician who possesses the fire of John Coltrane, the soul of Stanley Turrentine, the spirit of his namesakeRahsaan Roland Kirkand a sound that's all his own.
Track Listing: Jubilee; Lost And Found; Floodsong; Manhattan Grace; Why So Blue?; Innocence; Adagio; Memphis Soul; Redemption.
Personnel: Rahsaan Barber: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, flute; Adam Agati: guitar; Roland Barber: trombone; Jody Nardone: piano; Jerry Navarro: bass; Nioshi Jackson: drums.