Abraham Lincoln had one eye on the past and the other on the present and future when he gave his famous Gettysburg Address. In that speech, celebrating its sesquicentennial when this album was recorded in 2013, Lincoln spoke of honoring the fallen, furthering what they started, and looking forward to "a new birth of freedom." As most everybody knows, Lincoln's speech had nothing to with creative music, yet the general theme(s), as viewed in modern times, have everything to do with it. For Us, The Living
, the debut album from baritone saxophonist Andrew Hadro, takes its name from a line in The Gettysburg Address. This is Hadro's dedication to the greats who've come before, but it's also his way of building on what they've done. He doesn't cover any standards or older works and he doesn't ape any particular players or styles. He also doesn't try to erase the past; this is his show, but he's aware that there would be no
show if not for those who paved the way.
His "Allegrecia" kicks off the album with washes of sound, but clarity isn't too far away. A lot happens during this opener, as Daniel Foose
's plummy bass gets some attention, Hadro heats things up, drummer Matt Wilson
is ever-interesting, and pianist Carmen Staaf
makes her mark. The follow-up, "Forever, All Ways" has a wide dramatic arc to it, and Julian Shore
's "Give" serves as another opportunity to admire Staaf's work. "Bright Eyes" and the title track come next, and they prove to be the only numbers that wane a bit as they go. The former rocks from the get-go but never furthers itself, and the latter lacks the interesting curves that the best material here offers. This proves to be a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, as everything before and after these numbers shines.
A mini sea setHadro's "Wading The Sea" followed by Maria Schneider
's "Sea Of Tranquility"is brilliantly fleshed out. Interplay is at its height during "Wading The Sea," and Hadro delivers a show-stopper of a performance on "Sea Of Tranquility." The album then comes to a close with three of the strongest performancesa hip Robert Anselmi tune ("Paola"), a lyrical James Davis
piece ("Cotton"), and a dark drum-and-sax blues ("Hurricane Sandy"). It wouldn't be inaccurate to say that Hadro is one of the most promising baritone saxophonists to emerge in recent times, but it might be unfairly limiting given the scarcity of out-and-out bari players. It might be better to simply say, instrument aside, he's one to keep an eye on.
Allegrecia; Forever, All Ways; Gove; Bright Eyes; For Us, The Living; Wading The Sea;
Sea Of Tranquility; Paola; Cotton; Hurricane Sandy.
Andrew Hadro: baritone saxophone, flute; Daniel Foose: double bass; Carmen Staaf:
grand piano; Matt Wilson: drums.