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Fraser MacPherson: From The Pen Of...

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Fraser MacPherson: From The Pen Of...
The late tenor saxophonist Fraser MacPherson was well-known in western Canada and elsewhere for his brilliance—but as player, not a writer. In fact, according to MacPherson's son Guy, who wrote the excellent liner notes to From the Pen of..., his father wrote barely a dozen or so original compositions, almost all of which are included on this superlative album with performances by a who's who of well- known jazz artists from Canada and other countries.

Considering what is presented here, the obvious conclusion is that MacPherson should have written far more often—simply because he was very good at it. That is another way of saying that every number on the album is first-class, with more than enough freshness and variety to meet any listener's needs. As for the musicians, that is another testament to MacPherson's legacy, as they are among the most accomplished artists the contemporary music scene has to offer.

For example, those sitting in for MacPherson on tenor saxophone include renowned masters Scott Hamilton, Grant Stewart and Harry Allen, as well as Canadian stalwarts Steve Kaldestad, Ryan Oliver and Cory Weeds (who co-produced the enterprise with Guy MacPherson). Other luminaries lending a hand include trumpeter Brad Turner; pianists Jan Lundgren, Tardo Hammer and Bernie Senensky; guitarist Oliver Gannon; bassists Neil Swainson and Steve Wallace; and drummers Phil Stewart and Terry Clarke, to name only fifteen of the more than forty musicians whose talents helped enrich the album.

Hamilton and Lundgren start the ball rolling with "Night Spot," whose bright mid-tempo groove suits them perfectly, as do those of "The Queen's Pawn," which showcases clarinetist Virginia MacDonald and guitarist Lucian Gray, and "It's a Human Race," nailed by a quartet comprising guitarist Jocelyn Gould (who also sings quite nicely), pianist Will Bonness, bassist Julian Bradford and drummer Fabio Ragnelli. Kaldestad's incisive tenor brightens the easygoing "Rabbit's Habit,"

Clarinetist Evan Arntzen is featured on the meditative "Why Am I Blue?" Tenor Allen and guitarist Dave Blenkhorn get their shot in the spotlight on the charming "Waltz for Wili." Tenor Ryan Oliver (with Senensky, Swainson and Clarke) sets a torrid pace on the flag-waving "Our Blues," which precedes the album's second vocal, by Joani Taylor on "For Your Love." Weeds takes center stage on the breezy "Ol' Bill's Blues," bass clarinetist James Danderfer (the first recipient of the Fraser MacPherson Scholarship) on the well-grooved closer, "Theme." Other scholarship winners on the album include Arntzen, Oliver, bassist John Lee and drummer Morgan Childs.

Even though MacPherson didn't write often, it' is a blessing that he did so at all, as the dozen or so originals he authored are superb, and laid end-to-end encompass a truly special album.

Track Listing

Night Spot; Queen's Pawn; It's A Human Race; Rabbit's Habit; Up In Steve's Room; Why Am I Blue?; Waltz For Willi; Our Blues; For Your Love; Ol' Bill's Blues; Theme.

Personnel

Scott Hamilton
saxophone, tenor
Steve Kaldestad
saxophone, tenor
Grant Stewart
saxophone, tenor
Harry Allen
saxophone
Ryan Oliver
saxophone, tenor
Cory Weeds
saxophone, alto
Evan Arntzen
saxophone

Album information

Title: From The Pen Of... | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Cellar Records


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