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One of the most eloquent voices on the alto sax returns, and it is no small measure that Mark Kleinhaut was responsible for bringing Bobby Watson back on record. Kleinhaut wanted to write songs particularly for Watson, and again to his credit, he realized that any music would be the starting point for their dialogue. How right he was! Watson slips right in and, in consonance with the others, turns in a stimulating outing.
It matters little what style the music is. In the diversity of the compositions lies the thread for the musicians to pick and come up with a fabric that is often enough splendid. The lilting flex of a Latin rhythm marks “Ferdinand and Isabelle” before Watson punctuates with whirling figures that loop around the melody, spurred by Harris and Lyden. Kleinhaut has a loquacious tone and here he lets it bounce and dance adding pliant chord work to the flavor.
Ballad time is best witnessed on the warm intonation of Kleinhaut as he introduces “Erikita.” His unhurried pacing adds to the impact and Watson picks the skein and braids from the wellspring of inspired emotion. Making this all the more riveting is the textural contrast that is bought in by the arco of Lyden, the soft shaded drumming of Harris and the comping of Kleinhaut. The band goes on a happy, swinging romp “South of Mason.” Moving along like a well-oiled machine, this mid-tempo groover has enough panache to hook. As the final note falls and ebbs this album leaves behind a well woven musical tale.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.