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John O'Gallagher's Axiom: Line Of Sight

AAJ Staff By

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John O'Gallagher's latest album sounds focused on a narrow band of sound, in that the compositions are all built around an interval of a fourth, with a series of syncopations appearing in each line. These similar-sounding building blocks are then taken apart, reassembled, and subjected to an astonishing variety of treatments, so that through differences in tempo, time signature, and rhythmic emphasis, Line Of Sight takes on an impressive variety.

With Tony Malaby, O'Gallagher has found an ideal partner. O'Gallagher plays alto with a dry lyricism and he isn't afraid to let his lines breathe. Malaby plays tenor with a huge, sometimes brusque sound. He loves to dig in and swing, and he's not afraid to jump into upper register harmonics. On "Cubist," where his sound is momentarily indistinguishable from O'Gallagher's, Malaby's use of the high end makes for a stunning entrance. Elsewhere, Malaby performs an aggressive dance on "Unmode," with which O'Gallagher's thoughtful horn contrasts effectively. "Revolving Doors" features the horn men improvising collectively at a fast tempo, sometimes on paired soprano saxophones. O'Gallagher swings hard on this one.

Sometimes the saxophonists use sequential phrases, and sometimes the music takes on a mournful cast. At these moments the music sounds a bit like Ornette Coleman's quartet with Dewey Redman circa 1970, although I don't know if this was O'Gallagher's intention. The rhythm section on Line Of Sight is consistently responsive. There is much to hear on this album, as both O'Gallagher and Malaby continue to grow—and impress.


Track Listing: Cubist, Unmode, Leona, Effluence, Revolving Doors, DNA, Cascade, Rare Views.

Personnel: John O'Gallagher, alto, soprano saxophones; Tony Malaby, tenor, soprano saxophones; John Hebert, bass; Jeff Williams, drums.

Title: Line Of Sight | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent


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