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Mark Colby: Reflections

Jack Bowers By

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Reflections, the eighth CD as leader or co-leader by one of the Chicago area's most undervalued treasures, tenor saxophonist Mark Colby, is a tribute, he writes, to "the things that shaped and moved me when I was just a kid," as well as to friends, family and artists who nourished his growth and served as a catalyst for his becoming a musician. The studio date is dedicated to Colby's father, "who started me on my journey at age eight," and to one of Colby's earliest role models, tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, who died on July 25, 2008.

"Desafinado" is addressed to another of Colby's original mentors, Stan Getz, who befriended a teenage Colby and helped shape his young friend's approach to the tenor while introducing him to Brazilian music. To this day, Colby's abstractions display an unmistakable Getzian character even though the sound is pure Colby. Besides Colby, the first-rank quartet on "Desafinado" consists of guitarist Mike Pinto, bassist Eric Hochberg and drummer Bob Rummage. Elsewhere, Colby uses pianist Jeremy Kahn to round out the group, is accompanied only by Hochberg and Rummage on "Myth Mary's Blues," Johnny Burke/Jimmy van Heusen's "Like Someone in Love" and Harold Arlen/E.Y Harburg's "Over the Rainbow." Three special guests—alto saxophonist Phil Woods, trumpeter Bob Lark and pianist Ron Perillo—help brighten the easygoing finale, Woods's "Squires Parlor."

Besides "Myth Mary," written for his wife, Colby composed "Reflections" and "Caroline's Romp," the last presumably for a daughter (or granddaughter). Completing the program are Johnny Mandel's "Close Enough for Love," Ornette Coleman's capricious "Blues Connotation" and Cole Porter's enchanting ballad from the Broadway musical Kiss Me, Kate, "So in Love" (a second dedication to Colby's wife). Kahn solos earnestly on "Reflections," "So in Love" and "Caroline's Romp," Pinto on "Desafinado" and "Blues Connotation"—but none more so than Colby, who makes every note and phrase shimmer like sunlight on water. While he remains more or less unknown beyond his Chicago base, sooner or later the word on Colby is bound to spread, and that word is brilliant.

Track Listing: Close Enough for Love; Myth Mary's Blues; Reflections; Desafinado; Like Someone in Love; Blues Connotation; So in Love; Caroline's Romp; Over the Rainbow; Squires Parlor.

Personnel: Mark Colby: tenor sax; Jeremy Kahn: piano (1, 3, 7, 8); Ron Perillo: piano (10); Mike Pinto: guitar: (4, 6); Eric Hochberg: bass; Bob Rummage: drums; Bob Lark: flugelhorn (10); Phil Woods: alto sax (10).

Title: Reflections | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Origin Records

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