Nat Birchall: Sacred Dimension (2011)
Coltrane and Saunders are not Birchall's only spiritual and musical inspirations: reggae is also a major passion and was the music that initially inspired him to play the saxophone. Sacred Dimension has little obvious reggae influence in its sound, but the overall atmosphere of the albumthe relaxed rhythmic grooves, the seemingly effortless engagement with the soul of the musiccertainly shows an affinity for the genre's classic vibe.
Birchall's band is absolutely in tune with his style. Harpist Rachael Gladwin and pianist Adam Fairhall, both crucially important to the sound of Birchall's Guiding Spirit (Gondwana Records, 2010), make delicate and thoughtful contributions. Nick Blacka and Andy Hay add strong and muscular bass and drums without ever overpowering the lead players. Vibraphonist Corey Mwamba may be used sparingly, but he enhances the dynamics of the music with every note.
"Peace In Nineveh" flows gracefully, with Birchall's sinewy soprano saxophone, Fairhall's dexterous piano and Mwamba's sparky vibes weaving delightful patterns of sound over Blacka's hypnotic bass. "Radiant Will" (a title inspired by a Stanley Crouch article about Coltrane) and the title track showcase Birchall's free-flowing, warm and tender tenor sound, while both "Ancient World" and "Dance Of The Mystic" are filled with magical imagery. Individually these are five delightful tunes; together, they make Sacred Dimension into a truly impressive, and beautiful, album.
Track Listing: Ancient World; Sacred Dimension; Dance Of The Mystic; Peace In Nineveh; Radiant Will.
Personnel: Nat Birchall: saxophones; Adam Fairhall: piano; Corey Mwamba: vibes; Rachael Gladwin: harp; Nick Blacka: bass; Andy Hay: drums.
Record Label: Gondwana Records
Style: Modern Jazz