In jazz, there are composers and there are soloists and, as they say, "never the twain shall meet." Okay, not impossible, but it is rare in modern jazz for a musician to be both an outstanding soloist and a talented arranger. Listening to Apples + Oranges by West Coast saxophonist Cory Wright, the challenge is to determine which of the two talents makes this a thriving and effective recording.
But then again, requiring one to choose will result in a false choice. I like both chocolate and peanut butter, and I love them together.
The disc opens with "Freddie Awaits The Sleepers," a piece that wouldn't be out of place in the 1959 repertoire of Ornette Coleman. That is, if Ornette would have employed a trombonist. Rob Ewing's bone punches through the evanescent bebop passages while Evan Francis' alto saxophone shakes skittering notes. Wright's composition masquerades as unconfined, but it is actually a tightly woven composition. And so are the other seven pieces he penned here. "Whaticism" plays with time, bassist Lisa Mezzacappa soloing, then guiding the quintet through some challenging parts. The music alternately tangles complex arrangements with accommodating solos. Wright's saxophone is a resonant full-bodied sound that fits hand in glove with altoist Evan Francis. He plays both tenor saxophone and Bb clarinet here, delivering a brawny sound. One that has been featured in the bands of Anthony Braxton, Adam Rudolph, Vinnie Golia, and Yusef Lateef.
The beauty of this session is the range of the music. Wright's music can encompass the ceremonial sounds of the "St. Bruno's" series, a semi-classical chamber jazz composition "Eyedrop," and "Low Impact Critter," a sort of "Carl Stalling" cartoon music tribute score. Apples + Oranges turns the wow factor to maximum.
Freddie Awaits The Sleepers; Low Impact Critter; St. Bruno’s Preview;
Whaticism; The Sea And Space; St. Bruno’s Review; Eyedrop; St. Bruno’s
Cory Wright: tenor saxophone, Bb clarinet; Evan Francis: alto
saxophone, flute; Rob Ewing: trombone; Lisa Mezzacappa: bass; Jordan