The Mega–Sax Quartet employs no rhythm section, but does use percussion on Mike Mower’s “Folly” and Paquito D’Rivera’s “ Monk–Tuno,” and — I loathe being the one to have to say this — would benefit enormously from the presence of a rhythm section, stinkin’ or otherwise. As an exercise in saxophone virtuosity, these concert/studio dates from 1995 succeed on every level. As a recording I’d care to hear more often than was absolutely necessary . . . well, that’s another matter entirely. Don’t get me wrong; I admire the saxophone as much as anyone. I’d simply rather hear Jazz than sophisticated exercises designed to confound and impress. The members of the Mega–Sax Quartet are quite proficient, but without a rhythm section behind them they simply don’t (can’t?) swing. There are probative moves in that direction, which succeed only rarely (parts of “Monk–Tuno” and “Folly”). But more often this sounds like four saxophones showing off their chops, which is perhaps a fairly accurate assessment of the enterprise as a whole. If you dig that, then dig in. There’s an abundance of nourishment to appease your appetite. As for me, I was saying “no, thanks” before the second course was offered.
Track listing: Yuppieville Rodeo; Night in Olneyville; Full English Breakfast; Academicians; It’s Lovely Once You’re In; Monk–Tuno; Crillon Controller; Done Deal; The Nasty; Folly; Mach Piece #11 (65:10).