Long recognized as an avant-garde fixture with creativity up the wazoo, the World Saxophone Quartet has a language all its own. Its four-part harmony flows worlds apart from the norm while its improvised antics reach right out into your soul and grab hold. The quartet's albums can usually be ranked at the top before you even take a listen because you know that emotions are going to be on fire.
As a departure from the World Saxophone Quartet's ...read more
Political conscience occupies a special place in the quintessence of modern jazz, fueling, in its most heated moments, the stuff of blunt insurrection. It remains to be seen whether Political Blues, the most recent offering by the World Saxophone Quartet, occupies the same territory as those few moments of musical activism that have not only informed but also crucially affected the practice of revolution--Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite (Candid, 1960) is one, Charlie Haden's first Liberation Music Orchestra (Impulse!, 1969) ...read more
With its glory days more than arguably behind it, the WSQ has become something of a powerhouse repertory band. Beginning in 1977, the four saxophonists (then Hamiet Bluiett, Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, and David Murray) released seven remarkable albums in eight years before finding a second calling as an interpreting ensemble with 1986's brilliant Plays Duke Ellington. They followed that with an R&B set and a meeting with African drums; good albums both, but they marked the loss of Hemphill ...read more
Sick 'o' standards? Here, the members of the World Saxophone Quartet, who could tackle anything, jack the repertoire of Jimi Hendrix and render it to their whim.
The WSQ is known for working without a rhythm section, but they use one here on 4 of 8 cuts (including If 6 was 9"). That decision, coupled with whom they picked, is vital to the overall success of the outing. The ferocious drummer, Gene Lake, on fire throughout, is the real deal ...read more
The muscularity and imposing sound of the World Saxophone Quartet can be overwhelming to neophytes. Practiced listeners welcome WSQ's stately resonance and unpretentious tenor. And although the second alto chair vacated by the departure and passing of the late Julius Hemphill has evolved, a permanent substitute seems remote. The seasoned Oliver Lake, established Hamiett Bluiett, and dynamic David Murray (unedited and in their own words) continue to expand the lore of (after more than a quartet of a century) what ...read more
The World Saxophone Quartet has never sounded better. It’s all about the music. With their eighth Justin Time album, they’ve rediscovered a source that has inspired generations. Although Jimi Hendrix passed in 1970, his music has stayed with us through thick and thin. How could we have ever survived Vietnam without his music? Two Gulf wars and numerous tragedies, both home and abroad, have left their mark on our existence. Through it all, several generations have been fortunate to have ...read more
Let's be up front: the World Saxophone Quartet has never made a bad record. Sure, some listeners might not appreciate the unbridled energy that marks much of their work--but as for the rest, there are no low points. On the other hand, no single WSQ record stands out above their twenty-some others. Certainly that's a catch most bands would gladly aspire to achieve, but it also presents a challenge when the group steps forward to document a new performance. The ...read more
Extended pieces make up most of the program presented here by the World Saxophone Quartet in a live Chicago appearance from 1999. In front of an audience, the foursome is loose and natural; what you see is what you get.
Since 1976, this ensemble has taken its alluring persona on the road in chamber jazz fashion with great success. Their product is always a treat. When Julius Hemphill passed in 1995 and John Purcell joined the unit, things ...read more