Alto saxophonist, Noah Howard is a highly regarded free jazz musician who possesses a silvery tone to complement his brazen attack and melodious phraseology. However, Red Star is a noteworthy reissue of a 1977 session, originally released in Europe on the “Phonogram/Mercury” label, as we find the saxophonist aligning his wares with legendary Bop drummer, and co-leader of the “Clarke-Boland Big Band,” Kenny Clarke. With asymmetrical doses of bop, soul and free, this interesting and impeccably recorded outing commences with a buoyantly executed piece titled, “Creole Girl,” featuring Howard and trumpeter, Richard Williams’ softly stated and enjoyably melodic unison choruses. Here the band blazes forth amid a series of samba, funk, and soul grooves, accelerated by master drummer, Kenny Clarke’s alternating rhythms, and up-tempo time signatures.
“Lovers” is a ballad, brimming with the soloists’ interweaving sheets of sound atop Clarke’s rolling tom fills, sweeping cymbal swashes and bassist Guy Pederson’s geometrically constructed bass lines. Otherwise, there is an abundance of strong soloing by pianist, Bobby Few as the band zooms into the stratosphere on the lengthy and altogether blistering, free jazz romp, “Red Star.” Conversely, listeners familiar with Clarke’s now historical Bop legacy might be surprised to hear the drummer engage in a bit of genre busting, thanks to his rather spirited approach to free jazz drumming on the title piece. *Recommended*
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