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Hayden Chisholm: Breve

Dan McClenaghan By

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Saxophonist Hayden Chisholm, who hails from New Zealand, has set up shop in in Germany. His debut set as a leader for Germany's Pirouet Records, Breve, features a teaming with fellow Kiwi, bassist Matt Penman, and British piano legend John Taylor, The sound, untethered by the rhythmic anchoring of a drummer, has a smooth, clean, almost classical feel—a string quartet tackling these tunes wouldn't seem out of place.

Noticeable in the first thirty seconds of the disc's opener is Hayden's tone on alto sax, perhaps the clearest, purist sound of any saxophonist out there today, rivaling—perhaps surpassing—that of one of Duke Ellington's main alto men, Johnny Hodges. Wrapped in the crystalline piano touch of John Taylor, and buoyed by Penman's subtle bass work, the music has a cerebral yet approachable and uncluttered beauty.

Six of the nine tunes on Breve come from Chisholm's pen, bassist Penman contributes two, and pianist Taylor adds one. Opening with Penman's "Patche," the tone is set for a subtle three way interplay in a chamber jazz mode. Chisholm's notes are as light as soap bubbles. Taylor accompanies and steps into the lead with a refined delicacy as Penman supplies the gentle pulse. Chisholm's original, "Barely a Moon," sounds like a whispered yet profound conversation. His "Tinkerbell Swing" has a playful jauntiness, a little swaying energy. Chisholm's alto and Taylor's piano seem to chase each, like improvisational dancers, on "So It Goes," from Taylor's pen.

A soft, nuanced, spare and oddly pretty set by a virtuosic saxophonist.

Track Listing: Patche; Barely a Moon; Tinkerbell Swing; The Elf of Plants; Augmented Waltz; Pass A Cage, Lea; So It Goes; Inebriate Waltz; Fly.

Personnel: Hayden Chisholm: alto saxophone; John Taylor: piano; Matt Penman: bass.

Title: Breve | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Pirouet Records

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