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There's always room on the jazz scene for young talent, even in the tried and true saxophone-plus-rhythm-section format. Tenor saxophonist Mike Tucker received a full scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in 2002; he was also chosen to compete in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition the same year. After three years-plus of formal education and more than a decade of professional workincluding a Gary Burton/Pat Metheny recording projectTucker has released his debut CD as a leader, Collage.
The recording opens with the Tucker-penned piece "Fanfare," the only quintet tune on the disc, featuring trumpeter Eric Bloom. Tucker and Bloom coax warm tones from their respective horns, and after some up-tempo unison work, Bloom takes a bright and buoyant solo, with the rhythm guys crackling behind him. Tucker doesn't step out until nearly three minutes in, but it's worth the wait. He blows with a full-bodied sound, creating a smooth and articulate flow of interesting ideas.
Collage is full of inspired blowing, and Tucker stands out as a songwriter. Nine of the ten tunes are Tucker originals, ranging from the funky "New Orleans" to the straight-ahead "Fanfare," the pretty ballad "Kathy" and the fusion-like "Space #1 & #2." The disc closes out with the ethereal and plaintive "Mbira." Mike Tucker's debut proves itself an exceptionally strong introduction to an upcoming young saxophonist/songwriter.
Track Listing: Fanfare, Kathy, The Hey Man Tenor Club, 70's, New orleans, Bird Lives, Double Mambo, Sapce
Suite: Space #1 & Space #2; Mbira.
Personnel: Mike Tucker: saxophone; Lee Fish: drums and percussion; Leo Genovese: piano, Fender
Rhodes, sythesizer; Hogyu Hwang: bass.