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Jane Ira Bloom: Early Americans

Dan McClenaghan By

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One jazz music's premier soprano saxophonists, Jane Ira Bloom, crafted a career-defining recording with Sixteen Sunsets (Outline Records, 2013). So how does she follow that up? With an alteration of her quartet trajectory. Bloom's recorded output has consisted, over a career that began in the late 90s, of a series of mostly quartet sets, featuring terrific pianists, including Fred Hersch and Jamie Saft and Dominic Fallacaro in the piano chair.

For Early Americans, the piano disappears, and Bloom goes with the trio approach: soprano, bass and drums.

Where Sixteen Sunsets brimmed with a nuanced majesty—gorgeous familiar ballads, with a generous sprinkling of inspired originals, laid down by the most adept quartet craftsmanship, with Dominic Falacaro on piano, anchored by drummer Matt Wilson and bassist Cameron Brown, Early Americans, with its more spacious trio approach, has a feeling of fun and loose-limbed spontaneity. In a set of Bloom originals—with the exception of Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere" closing out the disc—the music has an elasticity and bounce, and freedom afforded by the lack of a chording instrument. It's also an odd mix of edgy funkiness combined with a spiritually-tinged exploratory verve.

"Song Patrol" opens the set with a joyful ebullience, as Bobby Previte's drums and Mark Helias' bass bounce around Bloom's fluid soprano. Most reviews of Bloom's work mention the beauty of her tone. It is here and is, as always, exquisite—pure, vibrato-less sonic gold. "Nearly (for Kenny Wheeler)" features Bloom unaccompanied, sounding as if she's on a religious pilgrimage. "Hips and Sticks" shuffles and sizzles and rattles on down the road; "Singing The Triangle" seems like a zen poem inside an insistent groove.

Bernstein's "Somewhere," with Bloom alone with her horn, is unadorned loveliness—a straightforward rendering of one of the most beautiful melodies, closing out another of Jane Ira Bloom's first-rate recordings.

Track Listing: Song Patrol; Dangerous Times; Nearly (For Kenny Wheeler); Hips & Sticks; Singing the Triangle; Other Eyes; Rhyme or Rhythm; Mind Gray River; Cornets of Paradise; Say More; Gateway to Progress; Big Bill; Somewhere.

Personnel: Jane Ira Bloom: soprano saxophone; Mark Helias: bass; Bobby Previte: drums.

Title: Early Americans | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Outline

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