All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.
Crossed Paths is state-of-the-art modern jazz. The members of Colorado tenor saxophonist Fred Hess' quartet explore his themes from every conceivable angle, ranging from skipping swing to brittle abstraction. And there's a blues, too.
Hess appears to enjoy a growing reputation, and he deserves it. He's a monster musician, a saxophonist with a full, distinctive tone, ample chops, and a conception that embraces the tradition, the present, and the future. His solo on the fast "On Perry St." is a fine example of his ability to juggle abstract materials with long melodic lines that reflect the inspiration of his hero Lester Young. Above all, originality is Hess' hallmark.
While a superficial listen to Crossed Paths may bring to mind Ornette Coleman circa 1961, a more forthright appraisal should easily home in on this music's originality, starting with the excellent trumpeter Ron Miles. Miles uses extended techniques like slurs and glisses, and he also displays a lovely, burnished tone and a wicked sense of humor.
The identity of this band is further borne out through Hess' writing. His compositions largely depend on melodic rather than harmonic improvisation, in which form is followed by thematic development. There are exceptions to this approach, including "Funhouse," a hip, relatively straightforward blues highlighted by a flowing Hess solo. Elsewhere, Ken Filiano and Matt Wilson may state the rhythms pointillistically or imply swing. And sometimes they just cook.
Track Listing: On Perry St., Zane, In The No, Knitwit For Tara, Funhouse, The Clef's Visit Grandma's, Crossed Paths, Mystery Woman, Untying The Knot.
Personnel: Fred Hess, tenor saxophone; Ron Miles, trumpet; Ken Filiano, bass; Matt Wilson, drums.
Year Released: 2005
| Record Label: Tapestry
| Style: Modern Jazz
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.