Toronto-born saxophonist/composer Andrew Rathbun is no stranger to pushing the boundaries. He has released a dozen superb modernistic CDs under his own name, perhaps most notable of these his nod to his fellow Canadian, writer Margaret Atwood, Sculptures (Blue Moon, 2002), and 2009's and Where We Are Now (Steeplechase Records). Rathbun, on all of his previous outings, has shown a true talent for putting together great bands. The disc at hand, Number & Letters is right there in that regard, with perhaps his finest and most simpatico group of players on this mostly quartet outing with Phil Markowitz on piano, ...read more
What effect does solitude have on a person? How can one grow as a result of being alone? These questions provoke a musical response from saxophonist, Andrew Rathbun, though the roots of his inspiration for this music lie over forty years ago. In 1967, legendary concert pianist Glenn Gould produced a radio documentary called The Idea of North" where simultaneously played voices narrated five people's views on Northern Canada. Gould called this experiment contrapuntal radio," an extension of his own musical voice and an exploration of the theme of solitude, a state which he needed creatively and craved personally. In ...read more
It is quite insouciant to categorize jazz musicians as either composers or players. But jazz devotees sometimes typecast artists as writers or interpreters of music. With a mature talent such as composer/saxophonist Andrew Rathbun, categorizing him in one camp or the other is unwarranted.
With Where We Are Now, his tenth disc as leader, he displays his growing maturity as a player and more of his acclaimed talents as composer/arranger.
Like his last few discs, he sets aside his taste for poetry and vocalists to center the session on the music. That's not to say his writing isn't chock-full of ...read more
Andrew Rathbun is a Canadian-born tenor saxophonist resident in New York, a Brooklyn regular who has garnered support from fellow tenorists Joe Lovano and Dave Liebman as well as trumpeter Kenny Wheeler. That should give some sense of Rathbun's lineage. He's a thoughtful player and--true to the influence of Wheeler (and Booker Little) and the mid-'60s Miles Davis quintet--a skillful composer, honing a refined lyricism that explores challenging harmonic patterns.
He`s also interested in consistent partnerships. The quintet heard here includes two musicians, trumpeter Taylor Haskins and bassist John Hebert, who played on Rathbun's first quintet session, Scatter Some Stones ...read more
Andrew Rathbun at The Manhattan School of Music, NYCManhattan School of MusicNew York City, NYMarch 19, 2008 Saxophonist Andrew Rathbun, as part of his fulfillment of the requirements for his Doctorate in Musical Arts, performed and conducted his own compositions at the Ades Performance Space, employing two ensembles. Although the academy is seen by many as a separate entity from the performing world, the mixing of the two mindsets, especially in musicians coming out of the jazz more than classical tradition, has been an increasingly common occurrence, spearheaded perhaps by the European jazz scene. ...read more
Canadian jazz musicians are frequently overlooked by American jazz fans unless they record for a US-based label, but ignore Andrew Rathbun at your own risk. There is a lot to like about Shadow Forms, as there are plenty of surprising twists within these intimate performances. This talented multi-instrumentalist, primarily heard on tenor sax, also doubles on soprano sax, clarinet and keyboards during this studio session, where he is joined by bassist Scott Lee and drummer Jeff Hirshfield, with veteran George Garzone adding a second tenor on several tracks. Rathbun and Lee contribute five originals each, in addition ...read more
For some reason, I never associated Andrew Rathbun with the Canadian scene, especially as embodied in the ever-expanding circle of David Braid and Mike Murley. There is something in his playing and compositions, just like Kenny Wheeler, that I cannot place--and which renders him distinct from the others. In any case, Shadow Forms is a wonderful album and, in typical Rathbun fashion, it could not be more different from his previous release, Renderings: The Art Of The Duo. In that effort with George Colligan, the duo explored its classical side in music of such extreme delicacy it ...read more
After a series of challenging and complex recordings, saxophonist Andrew Rathbun gives us his unplugged" album, minus the larger ensembles present on his earlier releases. The seven-piece Jade (FSNT, 2000) with vocalist Luciana Souza, the recording of Margaret Atwood's poetry on True Stories (Blue Moon, 2001), and even his quintet recording Sculptures (FSNT, 2002) with Kenny Wheeler focused more on writing, rather than his horn playing.
With Renderings: The Art Of The Duo (FSNT, 2006), a chamber jazz duet recording with George Colligan, and the nearly contemporaneous Shadow Forms, listeners can focus on Rathbun's outstanding horn work. This ...read more
Renderings could be the perfect album for the jazz lover who thinks he doesn't like classical music, or vice versa. The recording is extremely beautiful for many reasons, in no small part because of the classical music chosen on which to improvise, as well as the leaders' own classically inspired compositions. From the point of view of sheer sound, Andrew Rathbun's soprano saxophone timbre is almost flute-like in its lack of reedy coloration. Being extremely pure, it literally floats. George Colligan has an very fine touch, paying attention to dynamics and gradations of attack, clearly having spent ...read more
Renderings is a no-net duo set featuring Andrew Rathbun on soprano saxophone (tenor on one number) and George Colligan on piano. The title of the opening tune--Maurice Ravel's Menuet Sur Le Nom Du Hayden," the French impressionist's homage to the great classical composer--clues you in as to what to expect. The sound is one of understated grandeur beneath an unabashedly pretty melody. Rathbun plays soprano saxophone with a pure, rich tone, conversing with pianist George Colligan in a seamless flow; the pianist handles a complex middle section with a deft mix of delicacy and force.With names like Hayden ...read more
Jazz is about more than soloing. The real meat of the music is in the collective interplay of the ensemble, the responses of one musician to what another has just done, all in real time: this is happening right now. You're not going to find a more fascinating demonstration of unique musical communication than Days Before and After, the new CD from the Andrew Rathbun-Owen Howard Quintet. Both saxophonist Rathbun and drummer Howard are mainstays of the New York jazz scene--Rathbun by way of Toronto--and both are fine composers. What's remarkable is how compatible their compositions are; there is neither ...read more
How does a jazz musician go about adding some zest and shine, and maybe a touch of modernity, to the old tried and true saxophone-and-rhythm-section format? Sometimes they use a Fender Rhodes instead the accoustic piano, and sometimes they put an electric guitar in the keyboard's place; and sometimes they add a guitar to the piano, to give a denser weave to the harmonics. Rare is the use of two guitars in the jazz world--that's more of a rock thing, it would seem. But that's the way saxophonist Andrew Rathbun and drummer Owen Howard do it on Days Before and ...read more
His last time out on Fresh Sound Records, saxophonist/composer Adnrew Rathbun stretched the jazz listening experience by incorporating the writing of his fellow Canadian, Margaret Atwood, into his genre-bending CD, True Stories. The music was indeed 'Fresh Sounding', giving melody and quintet jazz backing to Atwood's lovely poems. And the band, when Atwood wasn't featured, turned out some high-energy, modal, mid-sixties Miles Davis sounds, Fender rhodes and all.This time out, on Sculptures , Rathbun offers up jazz straight through, quintet mode, sax and trumpet front line, going with the accoustic piano instead of Fender rhodes.An initial ...read more
Jazz defies structure, poetry can harness it. Putting the two together requires an adept mind, an articulate skill and the vision to encapsulate the body of one within the free form of the other. When Andrew Rathbun takes on the poetry of Margaret Atwood, he gives it a new, and deserving, testament.
Rathbun studied the work of the celebrated Canadian writer in school. Here he uses two of her lesser-known works, True Stories" and Bluejays", bringing in Luciana Souza to give voice to the words. She articulates with distinct feeling, dipping into the nuances of the poems and bringing the ...read more
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