Sam Newsome's Blue Soliloquy is not just a recording of solo soprano saxophone pieces; it's an eloquent and daring discourse on the scope of possibilities that the instrument offers. As the CD title and song names suggest, the blues forms the foundation for everything Newsome writes and plays. He depends heavily on multiphonics but this complements, rather than submerges, the smooth, rich resonance of his overall tone.
There are Gershwin-esque flourishes in tunes like "Blues for Robert Johnson" and "Blue Swagger" and Newsome's virtuosity sometimes makes it sound like there are two people playing. And multiphonics are not used just for their own sake; they're the "amen" notes in the call-and-response scheme of "Blue Pulpit," and carry the soulful and ambitious "Blue Sunday." On several tunes"Blue Beijing," "Blue Doppler Effect," "Blue Hum of the Holy Breath," "24 Tones"Newsome also employs the technique of circular breathing. While some players do this strictly as a parlor trick, Newsome embraces it on each song as a challenge, like a visual artist sketching a detailed landscape from a single unbroken line.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Blue Soliloquy is the way Newsome explores the soprano's imitative range. On "Blue Mbira," he manipulates his mouthpiece to capture the sound of an African thumb piano, produces flute pitches on "Bansuri Blue" and "Blue Bamboo" and echoes the texture of the human voice on "Throat-Singing Blues." None of these is a stone-faced impersonation. Newsome swings the whole time, even sending out intermittent winks in the form of tenor-like honking. The disc ends with an interpretation of "Blue Monk," the reworked chord structure and melody giving Newsome ample room to expound wonderfully upon the pianist's point.
Newsome pushes creative limits on this stunning work and does so with startling effect. In his adept hands, the soprano becomes truly organic. Who knew that an instrument could have so much personality?
Track Listing: Blues For Robert Johnson; Blue Mongolia; Blue Swagger; 24 Tones; Blue
Beijing; Mandela's Blue Mbira; Blue Safari; Throat-Singing Blues; Blue
Lacy Coleman; Blue Pulpit; Blue Doppler Effect; Blue Sunday; Blue
Bamboo; Blue Hum of the Holy Breath; Blue Monk.
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.