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Music finds its playground in the imagination. The saxophone quartet has worked well for legions of the persuasion, and it sure does work for these four players. The word saxophone confines them, for they use more than that particular vestigebut then what’s in a name? Not only do they go about their calling with a sense of purpose, direction and adventure, they call on other musicians for added timbral texture. The one time they go down the trail by themselves on “As Is,” there is a sparse looseness to their interplay. The slow buildup leads to only occasional moments of animation. It is not easy to retain attention over almost 32 minutes, and this tune fails to do so.
When they have company, the results are rewarding. The Blake composition “A Touch of Evil” has a deliciously supple sway and wafts in like a gentle breeze. It lasts for all too brief a while but that sets into motion some interesting byplay, unison lines billowing in different directions, horns flinty and congas percolating. They do not indulge stasis when it comes to “Bipartisan Blues.” Working as a sextet with bass and drums, the leaders head toward bopand it certainly is a good feeling when that leads to a bit of fun on the funk side. What’s more, when they all blow together, they brew a nice little storm. The many moods make for one exciting happening.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.