Baritone saxophonist and bass clarinetist Josh Sinton has a long resume going back to the 1990s, when he worked extensively in the Chicago scene with veterans including Fred Anderson and Ken Vandermark. Then a move to the East Coast, in the early 2000s, brought him into contact with mentors such as Ran Blake and Steve Lacy; since that period he has teamed up with many of the most important musicians in today's creative jazz and free improvisation, such as Kirk Knuffke, Mary Halvorson, Tomas Fujiwara, Nate Wooley, Tom Rainey and many others. With such a panoply of formative influences and collaborators, one would expect a Sinton solo record to cover a lot of interesting ground, and b. certainly does just that.
Sinton limits himself to baritone saxophone here, leaving the bass clarinet in the case. But that does not prevent him from exploring an exceptionally wide menu of registers and techniques on these nine improvised tracks. The opener, "b.1.i," bounces along with a contagious energy, notes spilling out in rhythmic patterns which establish and unsettle themselves. Elsewhere there is a more languid temper, as "b.1.ii" involves a more patient pursuit of phrases and a more intentional use of space; and "b.1.iv" verges towards the lyrical, with an almost song-like, melancholy air.
The remaining tracks are more adventurous, as "b.2.i" is largely an exercise in texture, with Sinton's extended technique operating at an almost inaudible level, with breath and high-pitched flutterings the dominant fixtures. "b.2.iv" possesses a more mysterious aspect, with low-register soundings and additional emphasis on the breath moving through the instrument. And "b.2.iii" exhibits jarring overblowing, revealing Sinton in his most agitated and demonstrative mode. With most of the pieces of a mid-sized length of three to five minutes, there is just enough time for Sinton to delve into each idea and technical strategy with concision, thereby maintaining interest and avoiding monotony. It is a strong glimpse of Sinton's talent as an improviser, and an engaging encounter with the range of expression available on the baritone saxophone.