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Jason Rigby: The Sage (2009)

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Jason Rigby: The Sage How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The sophomore release of New York-based saxophonist/composer Jason Rigby features him as a unique new voice that deserves wider attention. His deep, full-bodied tenor sound and his inside-outside jazz vocabulary reference sax greats such as John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
and Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
, while his elastic sense of time sounds closer to the fluid playfulness of Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
. His nuanced compositions and compelling experiments in instrumentation enrich his jazz language with ideas and colors that hark back to composers Béla Bartok, Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss.

Rigby leads a cast of stellar players: trumpeter Russ Johnson

Russ Johnson
b.1965
trumpet
, keyboardist Mike Hoboler and bassist Cameron Brown
Cameron Brown
Cameron Brown
b.1945
bass
—all of whom played on his debut Translucent Space (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2006)—along with drummer Gerald Cleaver. The quintet opens with "Magenta," where the first phrases highlight playful exchanges between Rigby and Johnson, echoing the telepathic interplay of Coleman and trumpeter Don Cherry until Rigby takes the lead with a burning but well-built solo that rides on the aggressive rhythm section. They continue with the hard-swinging "Crux," which features the tight and energetic playing of Cameron and Brown with forceful solos by Rigby and Johnson.

The gentle "Shift of Color" features Rigby on flute and Johnson on muted trumpet, creating beautiful rippling sonorities with the sustained soundscapes of Hoboler on the rhodes. Johnson opens the title track over a swinging, funky groove, and is soon joined by Rigby and Hoboler, who add momentum and velocity to the hard groove. "Slip" keeps the funky-based theme, this time using a blues scale as a vehicle for melodic and nuanced solos by Cameron, Rigby on soprano sax and Johnson on muted trumpet, all playing in free-form and open harmonics that reference the early fusion experiments of Miles Davis

Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
.

"The Archer" is a dynamic, slow-burning composition that features Johnson again on an evocative muted trumpet that contrasts with Rigby's assertive and muscular tenor sax. The quintet concludes this masterful showcase with the lyrical tone poem "Jealous Moon," featuring the inspiring interplay of Rigby and Johnson, as both lead the beautiful composition into its dream-like coda.

Track Listing: Magneta; Crux; Shift of Color; The Sage; Tone Poem; Slip; The Archer; Jealous Moon

Personnel: Jason Rigby: tenor and soprano saxophone, flute; Russ Johnson: trumpet; Mike Holober: rhodes; Cameron Brown: bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums

Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent

Style: Modern Jazz


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