A classically-trained saxophonist who went on to study with Ellis Marsalis and Ed Peterson at the University of New Orleans while working toward her master’s degree, 23-year-old Rebecca Barry debuts with mainstream reverence and a strong supporting cast.
The session starts with an ultra-fast "And Then Some," Barry’s composition, which highlights a very high technical skill level from saxophonist Barry, pianist Victor Atkins, and drummer Jason Marsalis. To contrast, three numbers are presented without drummer, emphasizing the melody and revealing Barry’s blues influence. "Old Devil Moon," particularly, shows the saxophonist’s spirit and respect for the mainstream practice of improvising over an arbitrary harmonic framework. Atkins and bassist Bill Huntington prove to be excellent partners for the saxophonist, coaxing the melody from all directions. For "Everything Happens To Me" the ensemble is pared down to a duo. Atkins and Barry complement each other well; however, it is here and on "Isfahan" that the saxophonist reveals an area needing improvement. Each time she eases up on the reins a little, the saxophone pitch begins to wander and her tone erodes considerably. Everything works out better when Barry plays with emotional force, both in slow and fast situations.
Five of the pieces are Barry’s compositions. Each of them puts the saxophonist’s best foot forward through subtle growls, strong forceful phrases, and a fluid articulation that runs all over the horn. Not coincidentally, each of the five is taken at a brisk tempo and, save one exception, with Atkins, Huntington and Marsalis driving the cart. New Orleans is where it all started about a hundred years ago; and with young lions such as Rebecca Barry keeping the flame alive, jazz will continue to reinforce its roots.