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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rich Halley 4: The Wisdom of Rocks

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Over the span of a uniformly superb career, saxophonist Rich Halley and his working quartet have blended sophisticated style and unbridled vigor into impeccable performances that brim with creative energy. Their fourth release The Wisdom Of Rocks is no exception. What is unique about this provocative and exhilarating record is its unadorned beauty and mordant sound. Like the title insinuates, a pervasive theme is a raw, almost primal erudition that permeates its dozen, mostly, short tracks. The hard-hitting “The Atoll" opens the disc with an intense sonic gust. After a powerful series of musical blows, Halley and trombonist ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rich Halley 4: The Wisdom of Rocks

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Tenor saxophonist and composer Rich Halley believes in the wisdom of rocks, or so one must assume from the title of his 16th album as leader, The Wisdom Of Rocks. It's probably smart to acknowledge Halley's expertise in such matters: as a qualified field biologist who lives in Oregon he's no doubt encountered more than a few rocks in his time. As a musician, composer and band leader Halley has a distinguished and extensive discography. The Wisdom Of Rocks follows the tradition of much of Halley's work, especially with the quartet format--inventive and powerful playing, exciting compositions, imaginative improvisation, all ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rich Halley 4: The Wisdom of Rocks

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jny: Portland, Oregon, based saxophonist Rich Halley calls his 2014 quartet outing The Wisdom of Rocks, and on the disc' opener, “The Atoll," he blusters out of a two horn intro--with trombonist Michael Vlatkovich--into a tenor sax solo that sounds as if its roaring from some dark cavern, up out of the bedrock from its origins in the roiling magma closer to the Earth's core. Talk about torrid. Halley's saxophone roars and growls and pontificates in your face in front of Clyde Reed's rock solid bass and Carson Halley's increasingly finessed--since joining the band in 2010--but powerful drum work, until ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Rich Halley: Crossing The Passes

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In the popular media, jazz is seen as a completely urban phenomenon. There's plenty of precedent for this. It's not worth going into here. But the mere mention of the word “jazz" evokes images of neon- illuminated city streets, ice cubes tinkling in rock glasses, lit cigarettes, and bustling nightlife. For some, though, jazz is not about place. It's about spirit; a spirit unfettered and free in thought and action. Free enough to chip away at long-held archetypes to reveal something that is--if not wholly new--fundamentally different. Tenor saxophonist Rich Halley is one of those guys. A retired wildlife biologist ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rich Halley 4: Crossing the Passes

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Saxophonist Rich Halley has always had a thick, brassy tone and a bold and daring improvisational approach. Over the years a certain contemplative wisdom has permeated his music enhancing its intellectual edge without tempering its fiery zeal. The result, as demonstrated on Crossing The Passes is a sublime balance of the cerebral and visceral.On “Traversing The Maze" for instance, Halley's raw and passionate tenor eloquently creates harmonically intricate ad-lib sonic structures. The dark and mystical piece also features rocking bass and drum vamps that rumble and roll as an undercurrent to Halley's Trombonist Michael Vlatkovich's extemporizations. Vlatkovich's angular ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rich Halley 4: Crossing the Passes

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Tenor saxophonist Rich Halley kicked his recording career into high gear in 2001 with the flammable Coyotes in the City (Louie Records, 2001), a chunk of free jazz ferocious enough to scare off the feeble and the weak of heart. In a succession of CDs since then--a total of four at Louie Records before switching to his own Pine Eagle Records for five more--not much has changed. Halley is still a powerhouse sax man, in the mode of Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon; and he still likes to collaborate with other hornmen: cornetist Bobby Bradford on Blue Rims (Louie Records, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rich Halley 4: Back From Beyond

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It's perplexing that a jazz saxophonist of Rich Halley's caliber has never recorded for a large jazz label such as ECM or Soul Note/Black Saint. Perhaps a victim of geography (he's chosen to live in rural Oregon almost his entire life) and circumstance (he maintained a career as a wildlife biologist) more than anything else, the tenor man is far too busy composing, gigging, and recording to complain. With the inauguration of his own label, Pine Eagle Records, the whole question reduces to mere cocktail conversation. Back From Beyond, his fourth release on the Pine Eagle imprint, extends a string ...



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