How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
By inviting six stellar jazz saxophonists to sit in, Lori Andrews and Bart Samolis remind us of the contributions from that instrument throughout a century of growth. It's got the melody. Swirling alone and blending timbres with other members of the quartet, each saxophonist blazes improvised trails. Opting for a contemporary sound, Andrews colors a surround-sound harmony, while Samolis throbs with electric bass rhythms and melodies. An unusual instrument in jazz, Andrews' harp is plucked with both hands. Thus, she's able to provide a smooth sound that's still rich in harmony. When taking the lead, Andrews can be fascinating. Her feet work the pedals, while her hands weave musical elements into shape. For this project, however, she provides only harmonic accompaniment for Samolis' original compositions. His smooth electric bass tapping keeps the session smooth. While much of jazz can be quite percussive, this session settles in with subtlety and repetition. Two pieces are portrayed without a saxophonist. One is more creative, while the other retains a smooth jazz feel without focus. For both of these trio pieces, harp, bass and drums operate independently of each other. Still, the ensemble remains cohesive. Katisse Buckingham provides a highly effective flute solo on "The Edge." His creative work adds a natural sound to the dramatic piece. Both of Eric Marienthal's two contributions light fires. It's clear that Samolis and Andrews have absorbed the music of John Coltrane. While part of the session runs sweeter than most jazz performances, this duo has come up with a unique sound that will appeal to most of our readers.
Track Listing: Urban Legend; Parthenia; Backtalk; Squall; Akoustik Funk; Jimmy; Friends; The Edge; Four Winds; Mirrors; Emerald Bay; One Step Back.
Personnel: Lori Andrews- electric harp; Bart Samolis- bass; M.B. Gordy- drums, percussion; Matt Johnson, Russ Miller, Kurt Walther- drums; Eric Marienthal- alto saxophone; George Shelby, Mark Hollingsworth- tenor saxophone; Jeff Kashiwa- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Katisse Buckingham- tenor saxophone, flute.