Saxophonist Sweet Sue Terry's second self-released album is a soundtrack of sorts for the accompanying short story from which the date takes its title. The music, a tale of international intrigue, is similarly worldly. The opening "Terra Incognita (titled after a bar in the story) is a curious samba with Michael Rabinowitz's bassoon and T. Ice's percussion augmenting a first-rate New York quartet with guitarist Saul Rubin, bassist Leon Dorsey and drummer Vincent Ector.
"Desert Moon reflects upon a fictional night in Tunisia, with the leader's alto soaring over an exotic atmosphere produced by Ice's hadjini and Rubin's guitar effects. Terry plays the sultry songstress to great effect on "New Year, singing in a melancholic whisper to interject a film noir ambiance into the proceedings. "Seal of Solomon (the narrative's Holy Grail) is a pensive piece that showcases Terry's soprano sax and tastefully restrained solos from Rubin and Dorsey. The date's title track, its most straight-ahead song, is a modal tune somewhat reminiscent of "So What, with plenty of blowing room for the members of the quartet to show off their bop chops.
The remainder of the disc, though not directly related to the short story, appropriately complements the music that precedes it. "Waterwheel, an older Eastern-tinged Terry composition written for a tea ceremony, maintains the exotic mood, with Ector switching from trap drums to djembe and chekere. Perhaps the most ambitious track, "Filigree, is Terry's dedication to the late Steve Lacy. Opening dramatically with Ice's echoing gong, the powerful music utilizes shifting meters to create what the composer (featured on soprano) describes as "the aural equivalent of an optical illusion.
Terra Incognita; Desert Moon; New Year; Toothless Soothsayer; Seal of Solomon; Gilly's Caper; Waterwheel; Filigree; The Feel of the Blues; For Arden.
Michael Rabinowitz: bassoon; T. Ice: percussion; Saul Rubin: guitar; Leon Dorsey: bass;
Vincent Ector: drums; Sweet Sue Terry: alto saxophone.