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Ernst Bier, Matthias B: Live at the A-Trane

Elliott Simon By

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Five extended compositions recorded Live at the A-Trane in Berlin, Germany over two nights in 2005 present altoist/flutist Sonny Fortune in the company of a soulful B3 trio. Fortune's alto is still searing, with a tone and style that work quite well in this context, exposing his Philly R&B roots. His career of over forty years and powerful harmonic wah-wahing technique has seen him hook up with the best: trumpeter Miles Davis, drummers Elvin Jones and Buddy Rich, pianist McCoy Tyner and percussionist Mongo Santamaria.

His German bandmates for this date are up to the difficult task of keeping pace with Fortune, who at 66 years of age, amazes with his ability to combine flat-out speed with dazzling technique without letting up, for one of the hardest swinging sessions of 2007.

Two Fortune originals, "From Now On and "Waynish, immediately kick things into high gear and set the tone for an evening that turns into the quintessential jazz club experience. In addition to the burners, a smallish but appreciative crowd is treated to an exquisitely exotic version of Victor Young's "Delilah that has Fortune's flute erotically exploring the seductive persona of the biblical enchantress.

Ernst Bier is a likewise expressive drummer and it appears he played a large part in organizing the date. He lets Fortune call the shots but plays a major role in keeping things anchored and focused. Both Hammond B3 organist Matthias Bätzel and guitarist Karl Schloz impress with comping and solos that turn the evening into a first rate session. Kenny Barron's "Sunshower is given a Latin-tinged rhythmic base within which Bätzel cooks and Schloz is most comfortable soloing, setting the stage for more Fortune alto pyrotechnics. Given the venue, things fittingly close with Fortune's paean to one of his mentors, the intensely celebratory "Hangin with J.C.


Track Listing: From now on; Waynish; Delilah; Sunshower; Hangin out with J.C.

Personnel: Sonny Fortune: alto sax, flute, percussion; Karl Schloz: guitar; Matthias B

Title: Live at the A-Trane | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Konnex Records

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