Over and above ability, it takes chops, confidence and cool for jazz guitarists to invite a tenor saxophonist to partake in their music. When it gels, such as the classic Rollins/Hall pairing or the more recent Lovano/Scofield tandem, it can result in a meeting that blends the strengths of both instruments into a stylistic whole.
Intention, Amanda Monaco's second CD as leader, succeeds as such and plainly demonstrates her proficiencies across all these areas. Tenor saxophonist Jason Gillenwater shares the frontline with Monaco and he combines tone and speed with a penchant for stretching the limits. The two are capable of fine in-tandem playing and at times elegantly, other times forcefully, display the breadth and nuances of their instruments across a program of eight diverse tunes.
Monaco's exquisite chordal and melodic voices are given ample room in originals that show a serious multifaceted composer capable of complex compositions and differing personas. While Gillenwater can certainly honk his horn and play out, witness his burner "Resolution Lift, he also possesses the wherewithal and control to convey smoky pathos. The title cut is an example of their graceful approach to harmonic performance while "Tel Aviv I Love Her highlights Mid-Eastern hues within a seductively sinuous melody explored on clarinet, guitar and Fraser Hollins' perfectly understated bass. This blends into the lazy guitar/clarinet flow of "Procrastination before "Old Skool Flava, a funky freak out, is rhythmically driven by drummer Jeff Davis. Guitar and tenor then beautifully dovetail on the up-tempo "Deadlines Looming and the overtly melodic "Deception before the sentimentality of "My Man Stan slowly dances to conclusion. Intention is not a blowing session or a vehicle for one-upmanship, but a forum for harmonization and contrast.
Intention; Resolution Lift; Tel Aviv I Love Her; Procrastination; Old Skool Flava; Deadlines Looming; Deception; My Man Stan.
Amanda Monaco: guitar; Jason Gillenwater: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Fraser Hollins: acoustic bass; Jeff Davis: drums.
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