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Amanda Sedgwick: Reunion

Jack Bowers By

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Here's yet another clear refutation of the ludicrous assertion that women jazz musicians are unable to measure up to their male counterparts. I know nothing about alto saxophonist Amanda Sedgwick—as Reunion was recorded in Stockholm, she may be Swedish—but I do know a player when I hear one, and Sedgwick not only holds her own on this engaging bop-based quartet/quintet date, she overshadows everyone including her seasoned front-line companion, the American trumpeter Philip Harper.

In trying to put my finger on who Sedgwick reminds me of, the names Bud Shank, Frank Morgan, Sonny Criss, Charles McPherson, Antonio Hart and Vincent Herring come to mind, but that's only by way of comparison, as she has derived inspiration from a number of sources and developed her own persuasive voice. Gigi Gryce may have been another influence, as he composed the buoyant title selection (based, if my ears don't deceive me, on "I'll Remember April"), and echoes of Gryce can be heard in Sedgwick's gossamer sound.

Sedgwick is a first-rate composer too, as epitomized by her splendid originals, "Sylvia," "To My Friends," "Rue Hamra" and "Brown Silk." Harper, who shadows Sedgwick on half a dozen numbers, wrote the Messengers-like "Sorcerer of Antiquity" on which he delivers one of his more incendiary statements. Sedgwick goes it alone on "Friends," "Hamra," Cedar Walton's "Ugetsu" and the standards "I've Never Been in Love Before" and "Stay as Sweet as You Are." Pianist Daniel Tilling is another able soloist, while bassist Martin Sjosdedt and drummer Gilbert Matthews brashly enhance the session's boppish flavor. If there's a fly in the ointment, it lies in the tendency of one group member (Matthews, I suspect) to grunt, hum and otherwise divert one's attention from the music itself. I wonder if he thought his low-pitched "dum-dum-dum-de-dum" would be inaudible? Well, it isn't.

Setting that slight complaint aside, what remains is a splendid album of contemporary bop-centered jazz supervised by an eloquent spokesperson, Amanda Sedgwick, whose captivating voice we hope to hear more often.


Track Listing: Sylvia; To My Friends; I've Never Been in Love Before; Rue Hamra; Blue Jay; Stay as Sweet as You Are; When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You; Sorcerer of Antiquity; Ugetsu; Brown Silk; Reunion (60:40).

Personnel: Amanda Sedgwick, alto saxophone; Philip Harper, trumpet; Daniel Tilling, piano; Martin Sj

Title: Reunion | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Touch

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