414

Saxophone Summit: Saxophone Summit: Gathering of Spirits

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Saxophone Summit: Saxophone Summit: Gathering of Spirits 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)

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Telarc Records


Shop

More Articles

Read A Dark and Stormy Day CD/LP/Track Review A Dark and Stormy Day
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Pocono Git-Down CD/LP/Track Review Pocono Git-Down
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Rímur CD/LP/Track Review Rímur
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Schönbrunn CD/LP/Track Review Schönbrunn
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Playing the 60s" CD/LP/Track Review Playing the 60s
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 19, 2017
Read "Live at the JazzRoom" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the JazzRoom
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 17, 2016
Read "Juggling Kukla" CD/LP/Track Review Juggling Kukla
by John Sharpe
Published: June 19, 2016
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "Never Group" CD/LP/Track Review Never Group
by Mark F. Turner
Published: March 23, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!