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With this recording of mostly solo soprano sax improvisations, Aaron Bennett invites the obvious comparisons to Steve Lacy. Both players possess a breathtaking command of the instrument, and both keep an ear open to freer sounds. Bennett, however, generally has a thicker tone and utilizes more of an open approach on Luggage. Where Lacy might doggedly pursue theme and variation, Bennett stretches the concept of variation to its furthest extreme. He explores vast alterations in tonal color; at the same time he modulates tempos from lazy to frenzied. The end of the first improvisation, for example, utilizes circular breathing to hold a single note for about a minute. But it's not a static entity like Kenny G's famous 45 minute long drone: it's a pulsing, threading, breathing creation.
Of particular note on Luggage are the two non-solo pieces, which include a five-minute duet with vocalist Kattt "Three-T" Sammon. On this improvisation, the two engage in a bit of call-and-response before settling into more abstract tonal interplay. By demonstrating his sensitivity to another voice, Bennett hints at his potential in more expanded improvisational settings. The final piece features a rather bizarre group improvisation, with the audience playing whistles and rattles while Bennett craftily toots and whirls his way around them. Unfortunately, due to miking effects, the saxophone tends to drown out all but the most persistent kazoos and shakers. But you still get the general idea. As one might expect, it's a bit scatteredbut also somehow authentic in a primitive, tribal sense. No wonder (and also too in a greater way) that Bennett dedicates Luggage to Leo Smith.
Track Listing: 1; 2; 3 (Duet); 4; 5; 6 (Concerto for soprano sax and audience).
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.