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Tim Warfield: Jazz Is...

C. Andrew Hovan By

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Although it exists solely for the purposes of recordings and the occasional live gig, Tim Warfield’s quintet (Warfield- tenor saxophone; Nicholas Payton- trumpet; Cyrus Chestnut- piano; Tarus Mateen- bass; Clarence Penn- drums) has been a marvel to hear over the course of four albums dating back to the critically acclaimed A Cool Blue from 1995. They say the highest compliment that can be paid a jazz artist is the attainment of an individual voice, and in this regard Warfield stands head and shoulders above many of his peers. With a breathy and soulful timbre, his tenor voice is immediately identifiable; his compositions seek to explore a vociferous and spiritual platform that harkens back to the days of Coltrane.

Unfolding in the way that a fine novel reveals itself over the course of many chapters, “Silence- The Angels Are Crying” opens with a whisper before unleashing several solo segments taken at a headier tempo. With a ‘60s Milesian flair, “Origins” possesses a catchy stop-and-go melody and a relaxed gait that allows for several extended forays. By contrast, “My Shinning Hour” is almost all Warfield—and a tour-de-force it is, filled with exciting climaxes and those upper register ‘cries’ that give the saxophonist his emotional base.

With an opening melody that very briefly recalls “Star Eyes,” Warfield’s “Tune #2” moves at a relaxed pace and lets Payton bask in the limelight for awhile. Just listen to the way the trumpeter paces himself and uses space to give a lesson in improvisation at the highest pinnacle. Then Warfield enters with that characteristic swagger and a velvet cushion provided by Mateen and Penn. Rounding things out are “The Old Country,” which finds vibe man Stefon Harris in Hutcherson mode during a well-crafted spot; and “Until Further Notice,” another wonder of shifting tempos and a perfect forum for the multifaceted brilliance of Clarence Penn.

At its best, this latest installment in the saga of the Tim Warfield group is yet another lesson in the integrity and complexity that can be achieved with working groups who clearly understand the foundations of jazz.


Track Listing: Silence- The Angels Are Crying, Origins, My Shining Hour, The Magic Bag, Tune #2, The Old Country, Until Further Notice

Personnel: Tim Warfield (tenor sax), Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Stefon Harris (vibes), Cyrus Chestnut (piano), Tarus Mateen (bass), Clarence Penn (drums)

Title: Jazz Is... | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Criss Cross

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