Despite having performed with the Flux Quartet since as long ago as 2002, this is actually the first recording of compositions by saxophonist Oliver Lake featuring the Quartet. Lake himself is a septuagenarian of renown having been a founder member of the World Saxophone Quartet and Trio 3 with Reggie Workman and Andrew Cyrille (whose Time Being album on Intakt is released this year), to name just a couple of examples.
Taking his cue more from György Ligeti or Bela Bartok than from say George Russell or Anthony Braxton, Oliver Lake has constructed a set of fascinating pieces of contemporary classical music interspersed with occasional improvised passages. Lake plays alto on only three of the tracks "Hey Now Hey," "5 Sisters" and "Disambiguate" and then only sparingly. But the album is primarily concerned with his compositions which, despite not being jazz (in the universally accepted sense) are nevertheless totally engaging, highly sophisticated works of contemporary music.
Numbers such as the lugubrious title track are punctuated by occasional glissandi and pizzicato played notes, indeed "Sponge" opens with an ensemble ascending glissandi. But the tracks are never allowed to meander too far, the extemporisation limited to within the structural confines of the compositions.
Right Up On proves once more that jazz musicians are more than capable of successfully transitioning, even if temporarily, to an entirely different genre. The album is not devoid of dramatic, emotionally charged forays such as is heard in the closing the 20 minute epic "Einstein 100!" which includes a brief burst of hilarious Luciano Berio-esque stage "coughing" at 16' 32" in. What's more, the brilliant Flux Quartet is the perfect and virtuosic vehicle for realising Lake's complex and superlative suite.
Hey Now Hey; 5 Sisters; 2016; Disambiguate; Right Up On; Sponge; Einstein 100!
Oliver Lake: alto saxophone (1,2 and 4); Flux Quartet: Tom Chiu, Conrad Harris:
violin; Max Mandel: viola; Felix Fan: cello.