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Jason Rigby: Detroit-Cleveland Trio: One

Dan McClenaghan By

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The saxophone/bass/drums format has its challenge: the lack of a harmonic instrument to add depth and structure to the sound. Sonny Rollins put out a classic of the form: A Night At The Village Vanguard (Blue Note, 1958). But he's Sonny Rollins, and all the other saxophonist aren't. Same thing with Ornette Coleman and his two At The "Golden Circle" Stockholm sets (Blue Note, 1965), wonderful and dynamic sounds that sit on the top of the heap of his form.

It's probably unfair to compare a mortal sax man to the giants, but Jason Rigby's One reaches for the stars, and it comes close to getting a grasp on them.

His cohorts in this recording—bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Gerald Cleaver—are perfect foils for Rigby's vision. Aptly described as inside out players—sidemen and leader—they start the sound with fire and brimstone on "Dive Bar," a bracing sax/drums duet that brings John Coltrane's work with drummer Rashied Ali on Interstellar Space (Impulse! Record, 1974) to mind, with Cleaver creating a rumbling thunder, while Rigby torches the storm clouds with searing lightning strikes. The tune shifts in a seamless fashion into "Dorian Grey" on a prowling bass line that sets up an ominous groove. Rigby is relatively restrained, Cleaver's drums are orchestral, filling space before the rhythm goes into a prickly syncopation.

The album's title One refers to the unity of purpose and vision of this trio. The players have a history of collaboration together in various groupings. It shows. They step in from the from the outside on Rogers and Hart's "You Are Too Beautiful," though not all the way. A foot or two can still be heard on the other side of the doorway, especially with Rigby's easy-flowing, moldable treatment of the melody weaving in and out of the the understated bass/drums accompaniment.

"Newtoon" showcases Rigby's deep, robust tone to perfection. His sound is distinctive and bold, imbued with richness, and a hint of a growl.

"Speak Like a Child," an underappreciated Herbie Hancock gem and the title tune of the 1968 Blue Note Records album of the same name, features Rigby on soprano sax. It has a tranquil, mysterious feeling. Gershwin' "Embraceable You," solo saxophone style, sounds like a prayer, and the closer, "Dewey," written by Rigby as a part of a suite dedicated to saxophonist Dewey Redman and drummer Paul Bley, rips and roars, rock and rolls—an incendiary wrap-up to a to a sax/bass/drums session that couldn't have been conceived and executed better.

It's hinted that One could be the first in a set of recordings by Rigby, Brown and Cleaver, the Detroit-Cleveland Trio. This is a terrific beginning to that possibly-proposed project.

Track Listing: Dive Bar; Dorian Grey; You Are Too Beautiful; Newtoon; Speak Like A Child; Live By The Sword; Embraceable You; Dewey.

Personnel: Jason Rigby: tenor and soprano saxophones; Cameron Brwon: bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums.

Title: One | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent


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