Ralph Simon: As
As represents composer/saxophonist Ralph Simon’s second recording as a leader. Although originally recorded in 1981, As sounds remarkably fresh while consistently conveying a contemporary feel or vibe which is evident from the opening moments of Simon’s piece, “Kalimba”. Here, Simon and his bandmates elicit tropical themes enhanced by the late Gene Adler’s meticulous utilization of the kalimba along with vibraphonist Jeff Berman as Simon provides the ethereal treatments and acute expressionism via his soprano sax. Peppery yet low-key rhythms prevail on vibraphonist Jeff Berman’s composition titled, “Promise” as Simon’s lean and angular phrasing on soprano sax assists with the creation of an expansive dreamscape accented by drummer Chip White’s sharp yet sensitive rhythmic movements. The musicians indulge in a bit of post-modern swing on Simon’s compositions “Gepetto” and “Julie and Julius” also featuring crisp floating lines and distinct melodies as the all-star rhythm section of bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Billy Hart provide top notch support on the latter.
Simon and co. perform a 20-minute version of composer/vocalist Annette Peacock’s “Skin On Skin” as the band pursues thoughtful themes along with variances in pitch and tempo all within a rather climactic framework featuring circular passages and pianist Gene Adler’s momentous block chords and percussive attack. With “Skin On Skin”, the musicians pursue delicate motifs and otherworldly effects while maintaining a feeling of calm or serenity, which despite the occasional sparks, and passionate dialogue, is a fitting finale to a recording that beckons one’s imagination for participation. Recommended... * * * *
Ralph Simon; Tenor, Soprano & Alto Sax: Gene Adler; Piano and Kalimba: Jeff Berman; Vibes: Tom Beyer; Percussion: David Dunaway; Bass: Chip White; Drums Billy Hart; Drums: Marc Johnson; Bass: Dan Rose; Guitar