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Canadian jazz musicians are frequently overlooked by American jazz fans unless they record for a US-based label, but ignore Andrew Rathbun at your own risk. There is a lot to like about Shadow Forms, as there are plenty of surprising twists within these intimate performances.
This talented multi-instrumentalist, primarily heard on tenor sax, also doubles on soprano sax, clarinet and keyboards during this studio session, where he is joined by bassist Scott Lee and drummer Jeff Hirshfield, with veteran George Garzone adding a second tenor on several tracks. Rathbun and Lee contribute five originals each, in addition to interpretations of works by two contemporaries. The full quartet is heard on a brisker than usual setting of Joe Lovano's "Street Talk that features both tenor players delivering turbocharged solos. Their light-hearted run through Kenny Wheeler's "Onmo is something that Rathbun played with its composer on an earlier CD, so he thought it was worth revisiting.
Among the trio numbers, Lee's "Drewsie (a fine tribute to reed player Billy Drewes) showcases Rathbun's whimsical clarinet and the composer's humorous arco bass line, while Rathbun switches to soprano for the subdued ballad "Herbie at Sixty. Rathbun overdubs a soft keyboard line behind his robust tenor in his tense "Elmo, which is actually named for the famous puppet on Sesame Street. This outstanding release remains fresh with each hearing, as new facets of these performances become apparent to the listener.
Track Listing: Street Talk:To the Matt; Scatter Scott; Drewsie; Pass It In; Herbie at Sixty; Ripple; This Fall 9/11; Elmo; Look Again; Fifteen Minute Drill; Onmo.
Personnel: Andrew Rathbun: tenor and soprano saxophone, clarinet, keyboards; George Garzone: tenor saxophone; Scott Lee: bass; Jeff Hirshfield: drums.