Odean Pope Quartet Chris' Jazz Café Philadelphia, PA July 19, 2014 Legendary tenor saxophonist Odean Pope, in addition to his international status and iconic recordings, often appears in Philadelphia, his home town, but usually in festivals, concerts, and other situations where he is part of a bigger mix. His one evening show at Chris' Jazz Café gave listeners a special opportunity to hear him in an intimate setting where they could really attend to the subtlety of his playing in addition to his intricate long runs fueled by his innovative circular breathing. For the ...read more
It's been a banner year for tenor saxophone trios. Not the most common lineup, this challenging ensemble has seen some terrific releases from musicians both famous and unsung, veterans and newcomers alike. Now Philadelphia saxophonist Odean Pope adds his superb contribution with Odean's Three. It might not be fair to judge any jazz musician by the standard of whether he's become a 'household name.' What's famous among jazz fans--a group dedicated to esoteric musicians if ever there was one-- is meaningless within the context of broader popular music. But even among jazz fans Pope deserves wider recognition. At ...read more
Though best known for his lengthy tenure accompanying legendary drummer Max Roach, Philadelphia-based tenor saxophonist Odean Pope has long demonstrated a flair for writing and arranging that is as impressive as his sideman work. His most arresting compositions have been conceived for his decades-old Saxophone Choir, while smaller-scale projects have featured his improvisational prowess in collaboration with peers such as Dave Burrell, Khan Jamal and Sunny Murray. The octet featured on Odean's List gracefully integrates the intricate charts of Pope's Saxophone Choir with the intimacy of his small-combo sessions. Comprised of veterans both young and old, this multi-generational ensemble features ...read more
Odean Pope Odean's List In+Out Records 2009
Saxophonist Odean Pope is probably one of the most underappreciated jazz musicians of his generation. While Pope is most often cited for his long tenure with drummer Max Roach, his own recordings--from trio outings to his explosive saxophone choir albums--show a tough-toned tenor titan who writes and scores brilliantly for groups of any size and plays his heart out on every occasion. Pope came up on the Philadelphia scene, and fellow saxophone maverick Archie Shepp's liner notes for this album detail the good times they had while ...read more
Grounded in the Baptist spirituals of his youth followed by a musical upbringing in Philadelphia with the likes of John Coltrane and organist Jimmy Smith as mentors, tenor saxophonist Odean Pope is the bridge between hard bop and free.
His contributions to jazz are of major historical significance and through his over two decade long fruitful association with drummer Max Roach, groundbreaking saxophone choir, trio and quartet work and educational outreach he has influenced generations of musicians. At the same time, Pope cannot be pigeonholed and he has managed to maintain his creativity by continuing to ...read more
Odean Pope Quartet To The Roach CIMP 2006 Odean Pope Serenity CIMP 2007
The many-sided figure defined by the intersecting lines among saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman is the space that tenor saxophonist Odean Pope inhabits and expands upon. A nexus among players of his generation, Pope is on the cusp of bop and free jazz, connecting the two with a singular approach that is both accessible and creative. These two recent releases ...read more
After more than forty years of being a highly regarded musician's musician, saxophonist Odean Pope threatens to break out into mass consciousness with the release of his sizzling tour de force session with his Saxophone Choir, appropriately titled Locked and Loaded: Live at The Blue Note (Half Note, 2006). While he also works in trio and quartet settings, his signature Saxophone Choir fulfills his early desire to translate the power and majesty of a gospel choir to his beloved reeds. Featured on the live recording are soloists who grew up inspired by Pope's musical vision, including Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, ...read more
On Locked and Loaded, Odean Pope and his saxophone choir offer up lush, drum-tight voicings as gorgeous and rich as any golden age big band section, then shift gear from full-throated crooning to full-throttle blowing with no audible effort. The first two tracks, both Pope originals, set the agenda: the standard-ish ballad Epitome," which is nearly devoid of improvisation, is followed by the wildly swinging Prince Lasha," which is just about all improvisation, and free at that. Pope plays both games expertly on tenor and his inspired choices for counterparts--Michael Brecker, James Carter, Joe Lovano--dig down for their fieriest, most ...read more
Kimmel Center for the Peforming Arts Verizon Hall Philadelphia, PA November 18, 2005This concert maintained the particular focus on Philadelphia musicians of the Mellon Jazz Festival at the Kimmel. Odean Pope is a Philadelphia legend, who worked with John Coltrane, Max Roach and many other jazz masters. His saxophone choir members mostly hail from Philadelphia. Ravi Coltrane's father is from Philly, and Ravi has maintained that connection. McBride is a Philadelphia native who attended CAPA (The High School of Creative and Performing Arts) here. The sound of both the Pope and McBride groups ...read more
Shooting for a faux sense of inscrutability, the tongue-in-cheek title of this new CIMP masks what is an unsurprisingly common occurrence in creative improvised music. Like others of his era who have dropped beneath the public radar since their halcyon days, Prince Lasha opted for a more financially remunerative path than the largess of professional musicianship could provide. Or to put it more simply, when the well ran dry, he sought water elsewhere. Now a septuagenarian, the time felt ripe for a return to the jazz world to redress what he feels is a waning sense of soul. ...read more
With uncertain times comes the natural urge to seek sources of stability. An Odean Pope album is like a figurative life preserver in this regard. A listener can pretty much bank on certain assurances if Pope's horn is piloting the ship. Mellifluous free bop charts, ample solo space for the participants, and a guiding appreciation for Philly-born soul are norms. But such consistency of intent and application can cut both ways. Quality is assured, but deviations from the formula are infrequent.
This recent CIMP date fits snugly within the established mold. Pope's long-limbed style of soloing finds ...read more
A markedly different and original musician, Odean Pope offers a saxophonic approach that sounds nothing like saxophone. In fact if anything it sounds more like wood flute or mellophone despite a typical tenor setup (with metal mouthpiece).
Odean Pope was born in the town in the town of Ninety Six, South Carolina, but grew up in the city of brotherly love. While paying his dues, he played behind such R&B acts as James Brown and Marvin Gaye. He studied with Ray Bryant. Though cognizant of Coltrane's presence and contributions to the music, Pope developed in his own way ...read more
Saxophonist Odean Pope has enjoyed a long and seemingly fruitful relationship with the great drummer, Max Roach yet not everyone realizes that Pope has also performed with McCoy Tyner, Miles Davis, Chet Baker and a slew of others besides fronting his successful “Saxophone Choir”. Nevertheless, Pope is an exhilarating performer who often utilizes circular breathing techniques coupled with an often powerful or beefy presentation on tenor sax. On EBIOTO, Pope and his “exciting” rhythm section surge forward with all the intensity of a runaway train or perhaps – similarities to Coltrane and the Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison rhythm section sans ...read more
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