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The Jeff Barash Quartet: Bouncin' on 160th Avenue

Jack Bowers By

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Saxophonist Jeff Barash, who lists among his influences a number of the usual suspects — Rollins, Getz, Stitt, Turrentine and even Trane — sounds not much like any of them but (on tenor, at least) rather like a cross between Harry Allen and Spike Robinson with swatches of Eddie Harris and Joe Henderson enhancing the wardrobe. Even though he’s been around for years, playing mainly on the West Coast with such standouts as Louie Bellson, Carl Fontana, Gene Harris, Jake Hanna, Harold Land and others, Bouncin’ marks Barash’s long–overdue debut as leader. The pianoless trio he has chosen to escort him works well thanks to meticulous group interplay and the supple chordings of guitarist Mike Owen. No one’s trying to plough any new ground but it’s clear they’re having a good time performing together. Barash plays tenor on five numbers, soprano on his “Nationalistic World” and Dave Liebman’s “Oasis,” flute on his “Realities Realm.” Owen wrote “Subject to Change,” Joe Bonner “Why Am I Here?” and “Ballad for ‘J.B.’,” Tadd Dameron “On a Misty Night.” A couple of bars into Barash’s “Bouncin’ on 160th Avenue” and I was thinking, “Hey, that’s Lester Young’s ‘Tickletoe’!” Close, but not quite, as Barash quickly takes the melody in another direction. It does swing in fine Lesterian fashion, however, with sharp commentary by all hands. Barash invokes the spirit of early Coltrane on “Misty Night,” introduces his full–bodied soprano on the samba “Nationalistic World” and carves a deep tenor groove on the breezy “Subject to Change.” Two of the last four numbers are ballads, with only the perky “Realities Realm” and the cookin’ midsection of “Why Am I Here?” intruding upon the placid environment. Barash, on flute, displays excellent chops on “Realm,” as he does on all his axes, while Owen is characteristically warm and outgoing. The finale finds Barash at his choppiest and most verbose, Owen shrewd and sure–fingered, and drummer Dave Hitchings relishing his only extended solo on the date. An entertaining hour–plus of persuasive straight–ahead Jazz by four well–schooled musicians whose minds never wander from the task at hand.

Contact: Sea Breeze Records, P.O. Box 1910, Pismo Beach, CA 93448–1910. Phone 818–489–2055.

Track Listing: Bouncin’ on 160th Avenue; On a Misty Night; Nationalistic World; Subject to Change; Oasis; Ballad for “J.B.”; Realities Realm; Why Am I Here? (65:46).

Personnel: Jeff Barash, tenor, soprano saxophone, flute; Mike Owen, electric guitar; Chris Larson, acoustic, electric bass; Dave Hitchings, drums.

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Sea Breeze Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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