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Elias Haslanger: Live at the Gallery

Chris M. Slawecki By

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Live at the Gallery boasts rollicking, soulful performances of a first-class set list recorded live and hot onstage at a packed jazz club in Austin (Texas) led by Texas native, Austin resident and tenor saxophonist Elias Haslanger and featuring soloists Dr. James Polk (another native Texan and former organist, pianist, writer, arranger and conductor for Ray Charles) on Hammond B-3 organ and Jake Langley on guitar.

Haslanger, who studied at the Manhattan School of Music, the University of Texas and Southwest Texas State University (when he received the DownBeat Student Music Award for College Outstanding Tenor Saxophone Performance), straddles the US east coast / Midwest tenor sounds. "New York was obviously a great learning experience but I'm more comfortable, personally and musically, back in Austin," he allows. "I think that's given me more confidence to develop my own sound and use it to explore new types of music." In 2013, Haslanger was short-listed by the Texas Commission on the Arts for the role of State Musician of Texas, an honor previously bestowed on such artists as Lyle Lovett and Willie Nelson.

"One for Daddy O," from Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's landmark Somethin' Else (1958, Blue Note) opens Live at the Gallerywith great feeling and sound—a little funk, a little blues, a little bounce and a ton of soul. Next, Polk's B-3 creeps into "Watermelon Man" (Herbie Hancock) to quickly introduce solos by Haslanger, whose tenor burns like a Texas brushfire, and Langley, who seems to channel Grant Green or Ivan Boogaloo Jones or a comparable soul-jazz guitar ace. Haslanger's hot runs through "Watermelon Man," "I Thought About You" and "Adam's Apple" (by Wayne Shorter) sound like lost classics from Prestige Records' tenor/B-3 soul jazz catalog, including and especially Sonny Stitt's extensive recordings with Don Patterson.

Or, if you prefer, Haslanger's take on Horace Silver's timeless "Song for My Father" sounds so much like Stanley Turrentine playing this tune in the funky Blue Note Records company of guitarist Grant Green and Dr. Lonnie Smith on B-3. Haslanger sounds soulful, blue and hot, stretching out his lines across several bars and then blistering the melody with hot staccato. In "Goin' Down," a favorite of Texas blues guitar ace Stevie Ray Vaughan, the saxophonist does more than sing—he testifies—the blues!

If you've ever wondered what Eddie Harris, Billy Butler and Jimmy Smith might sound like jamming together in heaven, now you know. Live at the Gallery is simply a great live set.

Track Listing: One for Daddy O; Watermelon Man; I Thought About You; Goin' Down; Song for My Father; Misty; Adam's Apple; In a Sentimental Mood.

Personnel: Elias Hanslanger: tenor sax; Dr. James Polk: B-3 organ; Jake Langley: guitar; Scott Laningham: drums; Daniel Durham: bass.

Title: Live at the Gallery | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Cherrywood Records

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