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OGJB Quartet: Ode To O

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OGJB Quartet: Ode To O
An assemblage of stars doesn't always result in a constellation. But astronomers will need to take note in the case of the OGJB Quartet, called after the forename initials of the four members: reedman Oliver Lake, cornetist Graham Haynes, bassist Joe Fonda and drummer Barry Altschul. On the venerable collective's second album Ode To O following their eponymous debut in 2019, one of the most striking traits is how much they sound like a band. As might be expected in such a situation, writing credits are spread across the cast, with eight charts in the hour-plus program rounded out by two group improvs.

Lake and Haynes form a pleasing combination, two distinctive and accomplished soloists, but here heard in consort as often as out-front alone. Lake, an alumnus of St. Louis' Black Artists Group, the World Saxophone Quartet and Trio 3, has lost none of his bite, unexpected snarls and squawks still erupting from the more familiar contours of his lines, while Haynes, who first came to prominence with Steve Coleman's Five Elements and the M-Base Collective, offers a more poised presence, though one equally prone to tonal distortion, particularly with his subtle but effective incorporation of electronics.

Fonda and Altschul's paths have crossed increasingly frequently over the last two decades, first in the FAB trio with violinist Billy Bang, latterly in Altschul's 3dom Factor unit with saxophonist Jon Irabagon. Suffice to say that the pair enjoy a virtually telepathic relationship, as swift to veer into the weeds as they are to enliven the straight and narrow or fashion an ebullient riff. Individually both are consummate performers, with Fonda a near perfect balance of rhythm and melody and Altschul not wasting a stroke.

Altschul's confidently jaunty title cut serves as a how-do-you-do to the crew, as each strut their stuff, Haynes pensive, Lake full of timbral digressions, Fonda propulsive yet impactful. But thereafter it's the interplay which catches the ear most, be that the dense churn of the drums and bass on Lake's "Justice" or the three way dialogue on Fonda's haunting "Me without Bela." More give and take ensues on the two improvisations, the uneasy "OGJB #3" and the fragmentary "OGJB #4" (the numbering continues on from tracks on the group's first release). However the set closes at the other end of the emotional spectrum with Haynes' "Apaixonado," grave and mournful, but with a hopefulness which belies its blue tinge.

This is an outfit which merits a longer run than it may get given the difficulty of getting the four principals together.

Track Listing

Ode to O; Justice; Me without Bela; Da Bang; The Other Side; Caring; OGJB #3; Bass Bottom; OGJB #4; Apaixonado.

Personnel

Oliver Lake: saxophone; Graham Haynes: cornet; Joe Fonda: bass, acoustic; Barry Altschul: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Graham Haynes: electronics.

Album information

Title: Ode To O | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: TUM Records

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