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Sabertooth: Dr. Midnight

Nic Jones By

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Context might be all here. At the time of this recording, Sabertooth had been working the same gig for a number of years but there's nothing sterile about the music it puts out. From the first note to the last it's clear that this is a band that's got its stuff down, and the sheer buzz they generate is made more remarkable by the fact that this live date happened in the early hours of a Sunday morning; it's as potent a case for the night people as you're ever likely to hear.

From the off with "Blues For C Piff" it's clear the group likes to hit the ground running. Everything falls not so much into place as in the pocket, and though they're grooving from about the fourth bar in it's clear they know there's no value in beating an audience over the head. Even in the midst of the heat it's always clear that this is a cooperative venture, one dedicated to seeking out and working the infinite subtleties of the modern mainstream, and having a high old time with them.

Both tenor saxophonists play an augmented range of reeds and woodwinds in a manner which provokes thoughts of Chicago's AACM, and as such their methods tie in with that city's musical output on another level besides that of their obvious affinity with a musician like Johnny Griffin. That connection becomes clear on "It's Surely Gonna Flop If It Ain't Got That Bop," where Pat Mallinger hits the ground running on alto sax and drummer Ted Sirota gives an object lesson in how to keep the music both buoyant and airy, even at a fast tempo.

It's not all about heat, however, any more than any party worthy of the name should be. "Tetemetetearri" is a lesson in shuffling dynamics which makes the case for how well these guys know partying. The two tenors get involved in some high-spirited but downright good natured dialogue, and the whole puts a smile on the face and a fire in the belly. If it happened to be 3:30am when they laid this one down the impression is anything but; it's just another factor contributing to an overall blast.


Track Listing: Blues for C Piff; It

Personnel: Cameron Pfiffner: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, piccolo; Pat Mallinger: tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, Native American flute; Pete Benson: Hammond B3 organ; Ted Sirota: drums.

Title: Dr. Midnight | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Delmark Records


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