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Ralph Bowen: Due Reverence

John Patten By

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Saxophonist Ralph Bowen's Due Reverence is a too-short set of tributes to horn players who've made an impression on Bowen. The five tunes were written in the styles of players Ted Dunbar, Bob Mintzer, James Scott, Phil Nimmons and Robert Dick.

Bowen gets backing from a strong quartet—Sean Jones on trumpet, Adam Rogers on guitar, John Patitucci on bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums. The combination of competently-crafted tunes from Bowen (director of jazz ensembles at Rutgers), played by this outstanding group, will hopefully help Due Reverence draw more attention to the saxophonist's work.

The release opens with the captivating tribute to Dunbar, "Less is More," with Rogers plucking sweetly on nylon-stringed guitar. After stating the theme, he's joined by Bowen and Patitucci (using a bow), taking a dark turn before a switch to mid-tempo swing. Here and throughout Due Reverence, Bowen shows his bop leanings, with fluid scales and a steady eighth-note rhythm.



While Bowen's playing is solid, it's Rogers who really shines. He gets to mix up tones, switching from full-bodied jazz timbres to tender, nylon-string, Gene Bertoncini-like lines. He's able to comp with full chords to drive tunes, as well as octaves and quick three-note chord stabs. Each of his solos is carefully developed and constructed, as on "This One's for Bob"—a bop guitar feast that starts with short statements quickly developed into extended runs and contrapuntal string-jumping.



Bowen's compositions cleverly nail the key aspects of each artist he's acknowledging, including Mintzer's jagged lines and Nimmons' smooth swing and use of dynamics. It's a fine balance to pay homage without losing personal style, and Bowen walks the line just right. The stylistic tributes are recognizable but never overtake Bowen's own style in the solos.



Due Reverence is a fine credit to each of the artists involved, as well as those to whom the reverence is due.


Track Listing: Less Is More; This One's For Bob; Phil-osophy; Mr. Scott; Points Encountered.

Personnel: Ralph Bowen: tenor saxophone; Adam Rogers: guitar; John Patitucci: bass; Antonio Sanchez: drums; Sean Jones: trumpet (4).

Title: Due Reverence | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

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