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Sam Sadigursky: Follow The Stick

Dan Bilawsky By

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It's a new day for multi-reedist Sam Sadigursky. After spending many a year focusing on The Words Project—a well-balanced exploration of the relationship between poetry and music that yielded four recordings on the New Amsterdam imprint—Sadigursky is focusing on a different project, recording for a different label, and emphasizing his work on clarinet.

The music presented on this album straddles a variety of worlds and styles, bringing chamber-esque angles, dance forms, metric twists, outré ideals, minimalistic thoughts, and Romantic tides into view. The band toys with the throttle, manipulating tempo and/or meter with great skill ("Fast Money," "Deadly Sins"); sounds are set adrift, left to float in vast and beautiful seas ("Looks Can Be Deceiving"); introspective thought gives way to tuneful discourse, lively and lithe in its own way ("Touché"); and a pair of horns—Sadigursky and guest trumpeter Jason Palmer—sets off into the wild, moving from a pas de deux to party mode ("Do The Dance"). Elsewhere, there are moments of pure and undiluted beauty to inhale ("Heart"), heavier numbers that emphasize the head over the heart ("Math Music"), and pieces that are somewhat staid yet surprising in their unfolding ("Reach").

While the title of this album comes off as something of a dictatorial directive, listeners need to look past that. This isn't some top-down exercise in musical control or vanity. In fact, the Follow The Stick band is notable for the way that it synthesizes clear and compelling statements through selfless exchanges of ideas. It's true that Sadigursky is at the helm, and all of the material save for a radically different spin on Glenn Miller's "String Of Pearls" comes from his pen, but he remains a force for inclusiveness and a player who puts the music before all else. His band mates, likewise, aren't in it for the attention. All three—pianist Bobby Avey, vibraphonist Chris Dingman, and drummer Jordan Perlson—are individualists capable of drawing in the ears, but they're also incredibly respectful of the music at hand and the hands guiding this project. They follow Sadigursky by finding ways to express and enhance his writing, not by acting as subordinates or sideshows. Follow The Stick isn't about unilateral decision making; it's a captivating statement built on the principle of unity.

Track Listing: Fast Money; String of Pearls; 3+2; Mule; Do The Dance; Austerity Measures; Looks Can Be Deceiving; Reach; Life's Flowering; Deadly Sins; Touché; Heart; Math Music.

Personnel: Sam Sadigursky: clarinet, bass clarinet; Chris Dingman: vibraphone, marimba; Bobby Avey: piano; Jordan Perlson: drums, percussion; Jason Palmer: trumpet (2, 5, 9, 13); Ljova: viola (7).

Title: Follow The Stick | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records

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