The Quartet Sessions
(there are two of them) mark the eighth recording as leader by New York-based tenor saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, an heir-apparent to an acclaimed dynasty of hard-boppers whose monarchs include Dexter Gordon
, Wardell Gray
, Gene Ammons
, Charlie Rouse
, Hank Mobley
, Sonny Rollins
and their peers, and embraces such contemporaries as Eric Alexander, Don Menza
and Joshua Redman
, among others. In fact, it's hard to listen to Lefkowitz-Brown (or Chad LB, as he is often called), especially on the burners, without thinking of Rollins, whose muscular sound and plain-spoken improvisational style bear a striking resemblance to the younger LB's.
Like Rollins, Lefkowitz-Brown is technically flawless; and like Rollins, he uses every melodic and rhythmic tool in the tenor's capacious bag to amplify his musical concepts. Beyond that, there is a clear yet inexpressible resemblance that binds them together in the listener's ear. Having said that, it should be noted that Chad LB is no Rollins clone; there is enough dissimilarity to keep the tenors at arm's length and in their respective orbits. And even if there weren't, another Rollins-like banquet could only be a good thing.
As noted, there are two sessions, one recorded in October 2019 with pianist Holger Marjamaa
, bassist Dan Chmielinski
and drummer Bryan Carter
; the other in February 2020 (Steven Feifke
, piano; Alexander Claffy
, bass; Corey Fonville
, drums). The music chosen is an engaging blend of popular and jazz standards (including one by Rollins, the bop-infused "Tenor Madness"). Quartet No. 1 secures the ramparts on "Mack the Knife," "Caravan," Thelonious Monk
's "Let's Cool One," "My One and Only Love" and John Lennon's "Yesterday," Quartet No. 2 on the other half-dozen numbers.
While Lefkowitz-Brown's resonant voice leads the chorus, Marjamaa and Feifke produce impressive statements of their own whenever the opportunity arises, and bassist Chmielinski is heard to good effect on "My One and Only Love." Both groups were well-recorded by Matt Marantz, helping to make the Tenor Sessions
one of this year's sharpest and most pleasurable tenor-based small-group albums.
Mack the Knife; Caravan; My Foolish Heart; Green Chimneys; Watermelon Man; All in
Love Is Fair; Let’s Cool One; All the Things You Are; My One and Only Love; Tenor