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Rob Reddy: Bechet: Our Contemporary

Glenn Astarita By

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Prominent New York City progressive saxophonist and composer, Rob Reddy contemporizes innovative soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet's artistic persona with his large ensemble, featuring several longtime associates, violinist Charles Burnham, bassist Dom Richards and drummer Pheeroan AkLaff. Reddy doesn't simply restate the past, but more importantly intertwines the trad jazz component with a scintillating and upbeat commingling of nouveau applications.

Bechet's wide vibrato technique, full-bodied and animated improvisational acumen extended conventional norms into the upper strata during his heyday mainly in the 1940s, despite numerous allusions to his obstinate personality. Yet Reddy whips a majestic, full throttle gala into variegated genres, including jazz rock, avant-garde expressionism and flavorful renditions of Bechet's comps, paired with his self-penned works amid a few sweet-tempered movements.

On the leader's bluesy "Erasing Statues, you can sense a hot and humid day along the Mississippi Delta, spawned by drawling horns and tender niceties. Moreover, the program contains ample doses of rough and tumble progressive jazz arrangements protracted by soaring choruses and sprightly free- jazz treks, occasionally dappled with Ornette Coleman-isms.

Reddy's horns charts interlink the old and the new whether it's trumpeter John Carlson's muted wah-wah notes locked in with marching band riffs or when he aligns with trombonist Curtis Fowlkes for several bars of slurring extended notes, bridged with modern jazz and rock stylizations. On Bechet's "Broken Windmill," the band seamlessly casts a trad jazz two-step with a festive dance motif embossed within twirling horns and Burnham's streaming staccato lines. Here, Aklaff sparks remembrances of early jazz drummers as he launches a lyrical solo while accenting the beat with a cowbell. Taken as a whole, Reddy's nods to Bechet are freshly reimagined and dexterously morphed into modern persuasions on a per-track basis.

Track Listing: Up-South; Petite Fleur; Erasing Statues; Song of the Medina; Yank; Chant in the Night; Speedy Joe; Broken Windmill.

Personnel: Rob Reddy: soprano saxophone; John Carlson: trumpet; Curtis Fowlkes: trombone; Charles Burnham: violin; Marika Hughes: cello; Marvin Sewell: guitars; Dom Richards: double bass; Pheeroan AkLaff: drums; Lisa Parrott: baritone saxophone (6); Oscar Noriega: clarinet (8).

Title: Bechet: Our Contemporary | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Reddy Music

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