Tenor saxophonist Erica Lindsay and pianist Sumi Tonooka began working together at a jazz club in Albany, New York. Their combined creativity brings something out in each other, leading them to Initiations
Lindsay and Tonooka have been playing together since 1994, but Initiations
is their first studio collaboration. They're accompanied by bassist Rufus Reid
and drummer Bob Braye, who sadly died after the session.
The lively, lounge jazz "Mari" opens the set, featuring some crisp hi-hat play and tom rolls from Braye. Though the tenor is out front most of the way, the rest of the group is equally engaging. Tonooka and Reid both solo, and when the melody resumes, Lindsay and Tonooka trade dialogues with Braye, who scores on the entire kit.
"South Street" is a moderate, delightful piece that inspires images of children and adults at play. Tonooka is out front early, with Braye mixing it up well in the background, focusing at times on the cymbals, or throwing in some snare and tom work. Lindsay's solo demonstrates the richness of her tenor, while Braye delivers a full-kit workout, with Reid and Tonooka keeping time.
"In the Void" features the two leaders in a tutti
on the melody. Reid and Braye are in a groove as Lindsay engages in some rapid-fire rolls, taking the tenor to some of its lowest depths during her solo. Tonooka follows, with Reid and Braye varying their approaches.
Lindsay and Tonooka split the songwriting duties, each contributing five of the ten selections. The songs demonstrate the leaders' compositional skills, as well as their talents as musicians. Ranging from just over five minutes to well over eight minutes, each track gives the quartet plenty of freedom to express.
Mari; Mingus Mood; South Street; Initiation; Serpent's Tale; In the Void; Somewhere Near Heaven; Black Urgency; The Gift; Yes.
Erica Lindsay: tenor saxophone; Sumi Tonooka: piano; Rufus Reid: bass; Bob Braye: drums.