Home » Jazz Articles » Jay Rattman: In the Towns


Album Review

Jay Rattman: In the Towns


Sign in to view read count
Jay Rattman: In the Towns
Jay Rattman may not exactly be a household name to some jazz listeners and saxophone hounds. Perhaps he should be. Busy, literate, and creative, Rattman is that rare player who makes one think. In a juxtaposition of styles, genres, and horns, New York-based Rattman, could be accused of what was termed "formalism" in the good old days of Josef Stalin and the USSR. Formalism, some brave soul observed, sotto voce, was music not immediately understood upon first hearing. And so it is here. One might say, "Who knew John Coltrane (or Phil Woods) could come out in just that way?" Or that someone could take a tune from the late 1920s and make it sound mournfully modern? Rattman can and does.

In The Towns looks as if its graphics were lifted, appropriately enough, from the cover of The New Yorker magazine. The tunes might suit "The Talk of the Town," starting with "The Melody Lingers On." Is that a C-melody sax bubbling up from an Ornettish unconscious? Whatever. It sounds good, especially with a lingering piano line embroidering in parallel at the close. In "The Towns" opens things, Coltrane-style, moving forward in a slow two, in a minor mood, a "Favorite Things" in a distorting mirror. "No Pancake So Thin" (what a title) just streams along, sinuously, with a piano solo which might have suited the original "Giant Steps," but sounds not at all like it, with a reflective double bass interlude, pizzicato, where arco might have spoiled the mood. "Late for Supper," a clarinet feature in three, sings away fluently, as Buddy DeFranco may have done, down to his licks, but not derivatively so. "Lonesome Shorty" is twelve bars of misery. Will someone find that blue piano a friend, like now?

There is, all told, a full hour of very good music here, including an ode to Rattman's youthful stomping grounds "Water Gap Tune" where a lot of music clearly passed into his ears. The recording is a mix of traditional forms, modern harmonies, varied instrumentation, and the creative soulfulness of Rattman's compositions. Different, a little offbeat, and worth listening to carefully. One should not be scared of the titles though. Especially "The Title of This Song May be Long," which is really a lovely, reflective, and deeply thoughtful meditation on life in America. The music may, in some sense, be a little different, but its tuneful sensibility is familiar to listeners of good jazz. And this is good jazz indeed.

Track Listing

In the Towns; No Pancake so Thin; Late for Supper; Lonesome Shorty; (The Title of This Song May Be Long, but It Is Still Not as Long as) The Arc of the Moral Universe; Water Gap Tune; Anachronistic Stomp; The Ballad of Juan Manuel; Small Town Rodeo Clown; The Song Is Ended (but the Melody Lingers On).


Jay Rattman: saxophone; Can Olgun: piano; Desmond White: bass; Guilhem Flouzat: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Jay Rattman: alto saxophone, clarinet; Can Olgun: piano; Desmond White: bass; Guilhem Flouzat: drums.

Album information

Title: In the Towns | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Self Produced

Post a comment about this album

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.



Jonathan Karrant
Poetry of a City
Douwe Eisenga
Celebrating Bix!
The Bix Centennial All-Stars


On the record

Without Question
Pete McCann
My Heart Speaks
Ivan Lins
Veronica Swift
Veronica Swift
Afro Futuristic Dreams
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.