Sam Newsome: The Tender Side of Sammy Straighthorn
With a fondness for the soprano stylings of both Wayne Shorter and Steve Lacy, Newsome's influences can be detected in 'Victoria's Secret,' which features the saxophonist's hard biting attack in a manner that recalls Shorter's '80s work on such albums as Atlantis. Not a one-trick pony however, Newsome's fluid approach to '12 Bars From Hell' (done with just bass and drums) clearly points to Lacy.
The addition of Elisabeth Kontomanou on several cuts provides further variety, her wordless vocals acting like another solo horn. The melancholy feeling to much of the writing that features Kontomanou hints at the influence of Kenny Wheeler, who often utilizes the voice of Norma Winstone in a similar manner. Pianist Bruce Barth is also a valuable member of the crew, his complex and soulful improvisations almost stealing the show at times.
As a vehicle for allowing the soprano to restore its rightful place among the rest of the saxophone family, Newsome should be congratulated on his efforts. Furthermore, his attempt to extend the hard bop tradition beyond the established boundaries has resulted an intriguing album that will reward those looking for something just a bit left of center.
Track Listing: Victoria's Secret, The Tender Side of Sammy Straighthorn, Autumn Leaves, 12 Bars From Hell, Lullaby of Takeda, The Dumpess of Nyack, All The Things You Are
Personnel: Sam Newsome- soprano saxophone, Elisabeth Kontomanou- voice, Bruce Barth- piano, Ugonna Okegwo- bass, Matt Wilson- drums
Record Label: SteepleChase Records