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Jazz's modern mainstream affords the artist an area for expression that can be both enjoyable to the listener and rewarding to the performer. No, not necessarily in a financial manner. The rewards come through the release of self-expression and having that opportunity to communicate with those who want to listen.
John O'Gallagher and Tony Malaby converse with each other and with their rhythmic team through sweeping melodies. Much of the music is composed. The quartet prefers to ignore meter and go for the desired mood instead, without concerns for fitting into a groove. Yet, their interplay remains tight and cohesive, as each artist scrambles lightly with fresh ideas. The session's harmony stays close to that to which we've become accustomed.
O'Gallagher has a full, rich alto saxophone tone that sings out with the blues and with a balladeer's heart. He lets his emotions fill the room with passion. Malaby's tenor, while keeping a lower profile, makes the perfect partner for O'Gallagher. Together, the two twist and turn simultaneously with like minds. It brings the listener along calmly. John Hebert and Jeff Williams, on the other hand, do their best to stoke the fires of dramatic tension. One number, "Revolving Doors," proves to be too much in its forcefulness, as the piece carries the quartet beyond peaceful forests and placid lakes and into dangerous waters that harbor strange enemies. Their forcefulness makes the piece sting with an acrid bite.
Most of the session, however, sings with calmer impressions that release the quartet's laid back personality. O'Gallagher and his ensemble pull from classic examples of saxophone-led organizations and issue the kind of impressions that communicate a sincere love for the art.
While audio samples from the album itself may not be available, you can download MP3 samples of the quartet's performances from John O'Gallagher's web site.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.