Saxophonist Craig Yaremko's Sync, immediately brings to mind his other major appearance recently, as the multi-reed player on trumpeter/flugelhornist Nathan Eklund's A Crooked Line (Jazz Excursion, 2007).
While A Crooked Line was a structured attempt to revisit the early 1960s Blue Note period, Sync has some other ideas. The group here is a quartet featuring Eklund once again, along with bassist Bill Moring and drummer Steve Johns.
The liner notes make specific reference to the Ornette Coleman/Don Cherry collaboration of the early 1960s, as well as the absence of a piano or other chorded instrument, in the quartet. One doesn't exactly get that comparison here, since Yaremko is playing a straight-ahead saxophone style and the intertwined trumpet and alto sax are more reminiscent of the Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker interaction of their mid 1950s recordings. On the Lennon/McCartney hit "Michelle," both give a precise example of that style, while playing a real melody, not an abstract improvisation. The lack of a piano does not lend itself towards free jazz here, while on Eklund's album, pianist Joe Elefante was a most positive aspect.
Indeed, Sync, begins in the 1960s Blue Note fashion, letting the ensemble present the opening three tracks in three distinct moods. "Two Kinds" has a mid-tempo groove, the title tune is a bracing flag waver, and "Time Goes" gives Yaremko and Eklund the opportunity to chase each other, sometimes at the same time.
A deconstruction of Irving Berlin's "Remember" recalls Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers' mid-1960s version of "Moon River." "9/19" has a funk backbeat, with Yaremko responding with a soulful alto solo. The quartet delivers a solid reading of Monk's "Ruby, My Dear," the album's only ballad.
Yaremko's versatility on his axes is impressive. In addition to switching between alto and tenor sax, he also plays flute on a non-bossa version of Jobim's "Zingaro," bass clarinet on "Trance Prelude," and soprano sax on "Ruby, My Dear." Bill Moring delivers impressive bass solos on "Topwise" and "Trance."
For the second time in several months, saxophonist Craig Yaremko proves to be a major find, offering a stylistically varied album to display his approach..
Personnel: Craig Yaremko: saxophones, flute, bass clarinet; Nathan Eklund: trumpet, flugelhorn; Bill Moring: bass; Steve Johns: drums.