160

Jerome Sabbagh at The Jazz Standard, New York City

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Jerome Sabbagh Quartet
The Jazz Standard
New York, NY
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

This gig was to celebrate the release of Sabbagh's latest album Pogo on the Sunnyside label. Maintaining the same band (Ben Monder: guitar, Joe Martin: bass, Ted Poor: drums) as on his previous release North (FSNT, 2005), Sabbagh (tenor and soprano saxophone) continues to expand the influences on his playing while at the same time honing his compositional and performance identity.

It is this identity that is remarkable, as Sabbagh has managed to create an immediately recognizable physical sound from his instrument along with a compositional style that is personally idiosyncratic (in the best sense). His saxophone sound is dry and airy with little vibrato: if thought of in linguistic/cultural terms, it seems to come across as "French," but that could be my projection. Most of the tunes played came, unsurprisingly, from Pogo and demonstrated that no matter what the vibe of the particular tune is, Sabbagh comes through.

What you will not get from Sabbagh is any kind of ostentation or histrionics, but rather understatement and hidden complications. His music has a groove and much emotional depth, both of which are subtly layered beneath a surface coolness. The feeling created is that of a delicate, almost transparent veil existing at first between the player and the listener, a filmy curtain which can, however, be pulled easily aside once it is noticed, revealing music that is direct. Sabbagh seems to work deliberately toward achieving this quality, which is attractive and ultimately quite rewarding for the listener.

The band, having recorded the album, was obviously no stranger to the music but had not been touring with it as a group. This unfamiliarity may explain some of the initial tightness, which quickly disappeared as they gelled and became better balanced in the ensemble sound.

Martin and Poor got locked in as the set progressed and provided the kind of supple and flexible yet grooving rhythm that the music demanded. Perhaps purposefully, Monder employed a rich, slightly distorted guitar sound that played against Sabbagh's dry reeds. Little more needs to be said about the talented guitarist's technique and musicianship, and in many ways, he was the star, at least for this set, which did not seem to bother Sabbagh at all.

Monder's fluid, quite unpredictable lines fit right in with Sabbagh's musical conception, but it was his comping that proved even more impressive. In support of the leader, he found countless chord substitutions and voicings that helped give the floating, unresolved feel that Sabbagh wants. Based on the intriguing results, it should surprise no one that Monder is Sabbagh's choice as his guitarist.

Sabbagh's music is well worth the effort to get beneath its superficial coolness, allowing its subtleties to unfold.

Jerome Sabbagh: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone

Ben Monder: guitar

Joe Martin: bass

Ted Poor: drums

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read WOMAD 2017 Live Reviews WOMAD 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Punkt Festival 2017 Live Reviews Punkt Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: September 17, 2017
Read Gary Clark, Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan at the Iridium Live Reviews Gary Clark, Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan at the Iridium
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: September 16, 2017
Read 38th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival Live Reviews 38th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: September 15, 2017
Read Sue Rynhart at The Cresent Arts Centre Live Reviews Sue Rynhart at The Cresent Arts Centre
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 15, 2017
Read 38th International Jazzfestival Saalfelden Live Reviews 38th International Jazzfestival Saalfelden
by Enrico Bettinello
Published: September 15, 2017
Read "Hyde Park Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Hyde Park Jazz Festival 2016
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "November Music 2016" Live Reviews November Music 2016
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2016
Read "Omar Sosa Residency at SFJAZZ" Live Reviews Omar Sosa Residency at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: May 8, 2017
Read "Kim Nalley's Tribute to Nina Simone" Live Reviews Kim Nalley's Tribute to Nina Simone
by Walter Atkins
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "Jean Luc Ponty Band at the Boulder Theater" Live Reviews Jean Luc Ponty Band at the Boulder Theater
by Geoff Anderson
Published: June 17, 2017
Read "Rigas Ritmi 2017" Live Reviews Rigas Ritmi 2017
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: July 12, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.