These CDs are by reedmen whose main instrument is the baritone sax. And like most baritone saxophonists, they've held down the bottom of sax sections in big bands prominently over the years. But here they're showcased in small groups, although each album has its own focus and concept. Temperley's is historical, DiBlasio's intimately lyrical and Schumacher's muscular, with a bohemian flavor.
A Scotsman now in his later 70s who already had jazz big band experience when he first came to New York in 1965, Temperley took Harry Carney's baritone chair in the sax section of Mercer Ellington's Duke Ellington Orchestra after Carney's death. Carney is one of the four baritone saxophonists honored - along with Serge Chaloff, Gerry Mulligan and Cecil Payne - on A Portrait, a quartet/quintet album featuring pianist John Bunch and enlivened by five cuts featuring multi-tracked reeds from Temperley and tenor saxophonist Andy Farber. The two saxophonists are at their romping, swinging best on Farber's take on Al Cohn's "The Goof and I and David Berger's perfectly Ellingtonian chart of "Mainstem . Temperley has a burly, burnished tone that enhances his easy caress of ballads like "I Should Care and "Polka Dots and Moonbeams as well as his burbly sense of swing on "Sweet and Lovely and "This Time the Dreams on Me . His a cappella bass clarinet rendition of Ellington's "A Single Petal of a Rose provides the album's tender coda.
Exposing the baritone sax as a single horn in an acoustic trio doesn't happen very often - Gary Smulyan did it last year on his Hidden Treasures CD with bass and drums - and Denis DiBlasio ups the ante on View from Pikes by going drumless, with just pianist Jim Ridl and bassist Steve Varner, recalling Jimmy Giuffre's trios of a half-century ago. Although there are tracks here where DiBlasio evokes the jaunty rumble of the baritone sax in tandem with punchy rhythms, slow tempos where he exploits the tough-tender corduroy tone of the baritone prevail, with DiBlasio weaving smooth, fluent and nimble lines on two standards: a stroll through "Days of Wine and Roses and a languorous bath in "Tenderly . His own ballads are lyric sonatas, close to elegiac in tone, including one where he plays flute. Ridl adds substantially to the deeply lyrical feel of the ballads and playful swing of the uptempos.
David Schumacher plays with a gruff, edgy, non-apologetic tone and timbre, delighting in the raspy edges of his baritone sound. On Endangered Species his core players are veteran hard bop drummer Jimmy Cobb and B3 organist Rob Bargad, joined on some tracks by trombonist Bob Trowers and on one by tenor saxophonists Jerry Weldon and Ned Goold (with the leader joining them in a 3-way tenor battle). Three tracks feature Schumacher's muffled readings of his own Beat poetry. And there's a rave-up descarga displaying the leader's affinity for AfroLatin jazz with a percussion section, electric bass and fellow baritone saxophonist Howard Johnson. The leader and Bargad contribute gritty soul jazz and blues originals and there are joyful explorations of Doug Miller's "Homage to the Pharaoh and Hank Mobley's "18th Hole , both fueled by Cobb's scintillating drum and cymbal work.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: The Goof and I; I should Care; Swing House; Can't We Be Friends; This Time The Dream's On Me; Polka Dots and Moonbeams; East St Louis Toodle-oo; Sweet and Lovely; Poor Butterfly; Flower is a Lovesome Thing; Mainstem; A Single Petal of a Rose.
Personnel: Joe Temperley: baritone sax.
View from Pikes
Tracks: The Days of Wine and Roses; Aria; Pacific Ride; View from Pikes; Tear Up an Anvil in an Open Field; Abbraccio; He Owns the Place; A New Kind of Tired; Whereyabin; Tenderly.
Personnel: Denis Diblasio: baritone sax, flute; Jim Ridl: piano; Steve Varner: bass.
Tracks: Too Tonal Free! Dumb!; Henry's Mad Crazy Blues; 398; Homage to Pharoh; On Being Judgemental; Sequito's Too Tonal Free!Drum!; 18th Hole; It's the Same Old Dream; Kickin' a Very Cold Foul; Arch's Nutty Variation; I Thin You Know...; Where's It Goin'?
Personnel: Dave Schumacher: baritone and tenor saxophones, recitations; Neil Caine: bass; Jimmy Cobb: drums; Robert Trowers: trombone; Rob Bargad: B3; Ned Good: tenor saxophone; Howard Johnson: baritone saxophone; Jerry Weldon: tenor saxophone; Ruben Rodriquez: bass; Sam "Seqito" Turner: quinto solo, Iya, cajon, congas, misc. percussion; Gabriel Mcahdo: congas; Jason Walker: itotele, bell; Pablo Moya: tres; Jay Klum: improvised hip-hop e-drums.