All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Saxophone Summit: Saxophone Summit: Gathering of Spirits

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
The spirit of John Coltrane looms heavy over the proceedings of Saxophone Summit: Gathering of Spirits , where saxophonists Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano commit to disc the occasional grouping that they have participated in since '96. The result is something a little surprising in this era of "super groups": a trio whose collective whole is clearly greater than the sum of the parts, representing an uncompromising ensemble that gets more exciting and adventurous as the one hour set progresses.

Making it easy to differentiate the players by placing them in specific aural positions—Lovano on the left, Liebman in the centre and Brecker on the right—what becomes increasingly apparent over the course of the programme is exactly how influential Coltrane has been on all three players. And yet, that being said, each player has taken that influence and developed something distinctly personal and unique. There is absolutely no mistaking each player, regardless of where they are positioned in the mix.

Probably the most overtly informed is Liebman, who is arguably the foremost proponent of the soprano saxophone performing today, and plays the straight horn on three of the six tracks. Brecker's roots are also in evidence, although he has developed so many identifiable signatures that, like Liebman, comparisons ultimately become meaningless; still, both players clearly lean towards the expressionistic "sheets of sound" approach that Coltrane first introduced. Less direct is Lovano, whose style is as much Dexter Gordon's richness and Sonny Rollins' lyrical elegance and dignity as it is Coltrane's boldness.

Starting the set with Lovano's reworking of "Bye Bye Blackbird," "Alexander the Great" gives the players, ably supported by pianist and long-time Liebman associate Phil Markowitz, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Billy Hart, a chance to warm up before heading into more Coltrane-esque modal territory on Markowitz's 7/4 piece, "The 12th Man." Coltrane's "India" is reharmonized, using the cycle of fourths to draw richer harmonies from the simple theme than Coltrane likely envisioned. "Peace on Earth" is a rubato tone poem that is a moving tribute to Coltrane's more spiritual side.

But the most risks are taken on the last half of the set. The seventeen-minute "Tricycle" was written by Liebman to give the rhythm section a chance to develop unencumbered a capella solos, and give the three saxophonists different musical contexts over which to solo—a rubato section for Liebman, a free-time section for Lovano's alto clarinet, and a burning in-time duet for Brecker with Hart. Opening with all three horns in full-out multiphonics mode, Brecker's title track finishes the album with a series of bare structures that serve as rallying points for free excursions from everyone involved.

Saxophone Summit proves that an idea with some commercial appeal doesn't have to sacrifice integrity or free-spiritedness. Brecker, Liebman and Lovano have crafted an album that easily stands amongst the best recordings of their collective careers, and makes one hope this isn't just a one-time affair.

Track Listing: Alexander the Great; The 12th Man; India; Peace on Earth; Tricycle; A Gathering of Spirits

Personnel: Michael Brecker (tenor saxophone, kaval), Dave Liebman (tenor and soprano saxophones, Indian flute), Joe Lovano (tenor saxophone, alto clarinet, tarogato)

Title: Saxophone Summit: Gathering of Spirits | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Telarc Records


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Lala Belu CD/LP/Track Review
Lala Belu
by Chris May
Published: March 23, 2018
Read All Melody CD/LP/Track Review
All Melody
by Phil Barnes
Published: March 23, 2018
Read The Future is Female CD/LP/Track Review
The Future is Female
by Paul Rauch
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Hunters & Scavengers CD/LP/Track Review
Hunters & Scavengers
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow CD/LP/Track Review
Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 22, 2018
Read Transatlantic CD/LP/Track Review
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 22, 2018
Read "From Silence to Somewhere" CD/LP/Track Review From Silence to Somewhere
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 21, 2018
Read "Plays Dutch Originals" CD/LP/Track Review Plays Dutch Originals
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 14, 2018
Read "The Invariant" CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by David Rocheleau-Houle
Published: December 22, 2017
Read "The Bowels Of Jupiter" CD/LP/Track Review The Bowels Of Jupiter
by Don Phipps
Published: March 6, 2018
Read "A Pouting Grimace" CD/LP/Track Review A Pouting Grimace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 15, 2017
Read "Far From Over" CD/LP/Track Review Far From Over
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 13, 2017