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 tuneMaurice Ravel's "Menuet Sur Le Nom Du Hayden," the French impressionist's homage to the great classical composerclues 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 and Ravel, you know this is going to be a bit more cerebral than your average jazz recording, with a classical lean that explores tranquility, beauty and controlled passion.
Andrew Rathbun is an artist who takes chances with his recordings. You don't hear any paint-by-the-numbers jazz discs from him. His excellent True Stories
(Blue Moon, '01) celebrated the poetry of Canadian writer Margaret Atwood; and Days Before and After
(Fresh Sound New Talent, '04) used the two-guitar backing of Ben Monder and Geoff Young.
The ambition factor is upped considerably on Renderings
. The saxophonist's 25-minute, seven-part "Suite for Soprano Saxophone and Piano," a nod to Wayne Shorter, explores a weave of improvisation and through-written material.
"Musica Callada," a six-part, 22-minute piece consisting of selections from Spanish Composer Federico Mompou, whose music, quoting from David Liebman's liner notes, "...stands quite apart in the 20th Century canon as it withstood the assault of atonal and chromatic trends." Colligan and Rathbun display their considerable technical skills and their ability to get to the soul of the subtly gorgeous pieces.
Pianist Colligan contributes two tunes, "The Last Waltz" and "Silkscreen," the former a bit dark and introspective, jazzier in tone than the rest; and the latter closes the show on a brighter note.
Visit Andrew Rathbun on the web.
Personnel: Andrew Rathbun: soprano and tenor saxophones; George Colligan: piano.