Baritone saxophone specialists, like their soprano-playing counterparts, seem a breed apart from their "normal" alto-and tenor- playing brethren. In a world where it's increasingly difficult to stand out from a gaggle of technically awesome young saxophonists, one can almost predict that more players will be specializing in these "second string" instruments. If Choice
by Argentinian bari-specialist Eden Bareket
is any indication, please bring the baritone saxophone revolution on post-haste. Eden Bareket is first-and-foremost a wonderfully-gifted technician with a beautiful sound on his instrument. Hopefully, after hearing guys like him and Brian Landrus
, we'll never again have to hear the instrument described as being "unwieldy" or otherwise ungraceful. Like Landrus, Bareket is a resourceful and quick-thinking improviser, and his well-crafted compositions are consistently engaging. Choice
is chock-full of melodic earworms that linger in the brain (and heart) well after the album itself has ended. His trio is quite excellent, as well. Not strictly "backing musicians," Eden shares the limelight equally with his bassist brother Or Baraket
and Chilean drummer Felix Lecaros
. As a unit, they possess the sort of near-telepathic involvement that makes for a truly engrossing musical experience.
While saxophonebassdrums trios are inevitably associated with free improvisation or free jazz, this is emphatically not
the case on Choice
. Eden Bareket's writing seems to be tailored exclusively for this trio, and hence it is impossible to imagine what his pieces would sound like with different players or a different instrumentation. The opener, "Jenga" is a case in point. A twisted, Charlie Parker
-like opening statement, later repeated by brother Or, sets the stage for funky, contrapuntal harmonic / rhythmic base from which Bareket's fierce improvisation springs forth. Throughout the album, each instrument's part seems to be tightly woven together to form a sort of musical fabric; a continuum from which improvisations and variations flow and develop. Much the same can be said of "Unfinished Business" (here, Or's bass-playing is strongly reminiscent of Dave Holland
's), the uber-funky "Arguing With Myself," and the slowly-building burner "Diphthong." It's an approach that works extremely well for these three musicians who are so highly attuned to one another. The result is an unusual and distinctive sound that, conceptually, falls closer to that of Odean Pope
(specifically his 80s trio with Cornell Rochester
and Gerald Veasley
), and the various trios led by the wonderful guitarist Wayne Krantz
. The end result, of course, is totally different, as Bareket's trio is resolutely acoustic.
Though Bareket's compositions and arrangements arefor the most partvery tightly conceived, the music on Choice
doesn't come across as un-spontaneous or fussy. This is especially true of his more balladic, open-ended pieces such as the title track, his cover of Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up," and "The Last One." Each serves as a platform for Bareket's impassioned, blues-and gospel-tinged improvising, with sympathetic drums-and-bass support. A surprisingly mature and well-thought-out debut album, Choice
left me wanting to hear more from all three musicians.