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Jerome Sabbagh / Ben Monder / Daniel Humair: I Will Follow You

Mark Corroto By

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How do you cook up innovative and inspiring jazz these days? Take a standard quintet and peel away the bassist (time keeper), then eliminate the pianist or chordal steward, and you are left with maybe the purest form of improvisation and interaction: the jazz trio. Saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh's trinity, heard on I Will Follow You, includes guitarist Ben Monder and drummer Daniel Humair.

Sabbagh is a French-born tenor/soprano saxophonist who now lives in Brooklyn. His previous discs—the standards sax/bass/drums trio of One Two Three (Bee Jazz, 2009) and quartet session with Monder, Pogo (Sunnyside, 2007)—have both been well-received, though neither could have forecast the arrival of this commanding session. Maybe it is the lineup here that makes the record: Monder, a perpetually underappreciated Player, has been the choice of saxophonists like Donny McCaslin, Bill McHenry, and Tony Malaby; likewise, Humair's been recording with Malaby of late, but has accompanied the likes of Dexter Gordon, Bud Powell, and Chet Baker throughout the decades.

At first blush, the trio recalls Paul Motian's now famous trio with Bill Frisell and Joe Lovano, but after due consideration it becomes clear that they are less polite...and a bit more aggressive. Although Sabbagh composed the bulk of the music heard, six of the thirteen tracks are purely improvised. Recorded with no rehearsals, the disc has a spontaneous nature, even the sole standard, "I Should Care." Sabbagh leaves space for the session to break into duos, and some inspiring solos. The title track is a great example of the swinging open nature of this session, with Humair's ceaseless energy of stick and brushwork underlying Sabbagh's probing tenor and the distortion-laden Monder. Sabbagh leaves space for time to become fluid on "The Clown," a note-chasing track that finds Monder in pursuit of Sabbagh's horn. Elsewhere, Monder is given free reign, shredding "Rahaan" and "Saloon" with rock attitude, while Humair is content to march behind, as Sabbagh whistles a happy tune on his soprano.

When things do calm, the sound is no less satisfying, as "Haiku" and "Apaisé" drift along, with dreamy tones, and poetic and elegant flair.

I Will Follow You is a complete recording.

Track Listing: I Will Follow You; Monolith; The Clown; Comptine; Come With Me; More; La Fée Morgane; Saloon; Apaisé; Rahan; Haiku; We Play, The You Play; I Should Care.

Personnel: Jerome Sabbagh: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Ben Monder: guitar; Daniel Humair: drums.

Title: I Will Follow You | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Bee Jazz

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