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Pete Lukas marks his arrival on CD with his sails set firmly in the mainstream. He plays the baritone saxophone, having gravitated to the instrument from alto and tenor. Lukas, a web designer by profession, first became interested in jazz when he was in Cambridge , England studying art. He upped the intensity of his musical studies when he moved to London in the late 1980s, and then began to play gigs.
Lukas not only chose some ripe tunes for his debut, but picked some fine English jazz musicians to resolve his vision. Steve Fishwick (trumpet, flugelhorn), Leon Greening (piano), Dominic Howles (acoustic bass) and Steve Brown (drums) gear in well enough.
Lukas has undeniable strengths. "Luminescence, an appropriate take-off point, finds him swinging in, keeping to the groove and letting the melody saturate with its presence. Fishwick swings too, but he gives his progression a welcome, gritty edge. Greening's flights are lithe and melodic, arcing the whole tune back.
Lukas navigates "Muezzin', the Pepper Adams composition, with dexterity. He blows the hard bop tune with ferocity without letting the pace slip pass by some interesting ideas. Fishwick, on flugelhorn, and Greening take the tune out, the former letting loose a blistering run, the latter prancing on top of the melody.
Minor disappointments are inescapable. Lukas makes heavy going of "I'm Old Fashioned. He begins well enough, playing with fluidity, but the flow gets bogged down along the way; the baritone does not sing a ballad well. Fishwick and Greening find empathy, and there is the fine rhythm sense of Brown on drums, but the final outcome is not completely satisfying.
Despite the twitches, Lukas has enough to show that he can get over the weak spots.
Track Listing: Luminescence; Stockholm Sweetnin; Ease it; Del Sasser; Theme for Ernie; Ceora; Tricotism; Sweet & Lovely; Muezzin; Im Old Fashioned; Stablemates.
Personnel: Pete Lukas: baritone saxophone; Steve Fishwick: trumpet, flugelhorn; Leon Greening: piano; Dominic Howles: acoustic bass; Steve Brown: drums.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.