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Even after decades in the music business, it's clear that David "Fathead Newman still has many, many notes left to play. Toward that end Life is a handful of chestnuts on which he displays his formidable triple-threat skills on tenor sax, alto sax and flute.
Newman's sultry tenor on "Girl Talk speaks volumes with his smooth and subtle phrasing, blowing masterfully with excellent accompaniment from vibraphonist Steve Nelson and guitarist Peter Bernstein. "Alfie has a simple yet evocative soulfulness and the shift to a waltz tempo in the middle, with solos by Nelson and Bernstein, gives the tune a pleasing new depth. Newman's tenor on "Come Sunday sounds like a blend of Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young and the atmosphere of the rhythm section, featuring pianist David Leonhardt, bassist John Menegon and drummer Yoron Israel, sounds like church services held at last call. And the group's intriguing tempo manipulations gives "Naima a wonderful new personality.
Charlie Parker's influence on generations of musicians is a never ending story. Newman's alto brilliantly recalls Parker's singular tone on "Old Folks and "Autumn In New York, a pair of standards that Bird stamped indelibly with his own harmonic seal. The execution, however, is pure Newman. He picks up the flute for a few tunes as well, playing with a melodic dexterity on the title cut (the album is a tribute to the late pianist John Hicks), "I Can't Get Started and "What A Wonderful World. Newman's intelligence and experience are evident throughout Life, an album which exemplifies a relaxed and timeless excellence.
Track Listing: Girl Talk; Life; Alfie; I Can't Get Started; Old Folks; Autumn in New York; Come Sunday; What A Wonderful World; Naima.
Personnel: David "Fathead" Newman: tenor sax, alto sax, flute; Steve Nelson: vibes; David Leonhardt: piano; Peter Bernstein: guitar; John Menegon: bass; Yoron Israel: drums.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.