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Greg Abate Quartet: Motif

Edward Blanco By

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A traveling jazz master with an international reputation as one of the top-tier saxophonist in the business today, Greg Abate and his distinguished quartet unveils a new Motif of splendid bebop sounds which, for this artist, is natural recurring theme. An expert of the bebop/post-bop sound he has performed for most of his career, Abate is recognized one of the finest proponents and interpreter of the style in the jazz world today.

An Educator as well as a renowned musician by profession, his musicianship is unquestioned as evidenced by the performance he provides here where, as a multi-instrumentalist who, through the wizardry of technology and "overdubbing," becomes his own reed section on this album performing, not only on the alto saxophone—for which he is most noted—but also on the baritone, the soprano and the flute.

The music opens up on the swinging side, the side Abate seems to be most comfortable with, burning up the title track with one steamy alto solo after another accompanied well by superb piano work from Tim Ray and various drum solos from Mark Walker. Penned for friend Buddy Boy Hawkins, "Buddy's Rendezvous" tones it down just a tad but still manages to sizzle this time featuring the saxophonist on the baritone. "Snowfall" is just as engaging featuring John Lockwood on sterling bass lines, splashing cymbals from Walker and Abate providing a torrid solo spot on the soprano.

Based on the jazz standard "It Could Happen to You," "Mrs. T" takes right off with the familiar melody that, of course, evolves into this burner of a tune which highlights the leader playing the baritone and the alto through the magic of overdubbing. One of the terrific originals of the date has to be the spacious "Bittersweet," featuring Abate on a magnificent alto playing a beautiful melody with a bossa nova underpinning as pianist Ray provides wonderful moments on the keys while bassist Lockwood makes his presence known.

All in not swing however as "Flashback" becomes the first warm spot of the disc and a ballad that the leader states ..." outlines my recurring thoughts of the past" and "Morning of the Leaves"—which showcases the master on the flute—a 34 bar jazz waltz, is the other mellow tune of the album. The texture of the music quickly returns for more swinging stuff beginning with the blazing "Steppin' Out," lightly-based on John Coltrane's "Giant Steps," the fast-paced "Conflict" and the last original piece of the set, "Swingin' at the Cookie," a another up tempo romp penned in memory of the saxophonists time performing at The Cookie, a jazz club in Leicester, England.

The great Phil Woods composition "Bop'n Bob Don't Stop," closes the session in the same rousing fashion as it began, pulsating with power. Motif captures an incredible session of swing from Greg Abate and crew who articulate the sounds of bebop with a masterful performance in a masterpiece of an album for the ages, quite impressive.

Track Listing: Motif; Buddy's Rendezvous; Snowfall; Mrs.T; Bittersweet; Flashback; Steppin' Out; Morning of the Leaves; Conflict; Swingin' at the Cookie; Bop'n Bob Don't Stop

Personnel: Greg Abate: alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; John Lockwood: bass; Mark Walker: drums; Tim Ray: piano

Title: Motif | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Whaling City Sound

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