161

Anthony Ortega Trio: Scattered Clouds

Robert Spencer By

Sign in to view read count
Here is unsung reedman Anthony Ortega in the most stripped-down of contexts: in contrast to the nonet that he recorded with on 1994's Neuf, and even to earlier quartet recordings, here he appears in a bare trio setting. There is a piano and drums but no bassist, and one is not missed: Mike Wofford's piano playing has enough body, and Ortega's saxophone enough rhythmic flight, for the bass not to be missed.

So here is Anthony Ortega, a calling-card showing off everything he has always done and can still do, perhaps better than ever, in his Seventies. Everything, that is, except perhaps his considerable compositional ability, for here he only contributes one number: the title track. Instead, his improvisational originality is the focus of this disc, which is heavy on standards, including two takes of the workhorse "What's New" and one of the saxophonist's proving ground, "Body and Soul."

Ortega whispers and croons. He soars and shouts. He may have the most varied, the most comprehensive sound of any modern alto player. Large portions of this disc make it a surprise coming from Hat Hut Records, a label which has produced a large amount of outstanding music, much (if not most) of which eschews conventional harmonic formulations and structures. But of course, so does Ortega: he manages through some musical alchemy to set aside and transcend traditional harmonies while in the very act of affirming them. Listen, for example, to "Body and Soul." It is taken slowly and sparingly, with an almost halting gait; yet an end-of-phrase filigree become the basis for the next phrase, and soon we're in territory untrodden by Hawk or Trane or, indeed, anyone.

Ortega does that sort of thing all through this disc. Close listening reveals a man who simply sees more possibilities in the harmonies than most players do, and who is able to use multiphonics to heighten his emotional effect without disrupting the musical material at hand. Close listening reveals a master at work.

And Wofford's piano, by the way, is no less enlightening. He seems to be a perfect match for Ortega, for he has a great respect for the tunes, plus the ability to stretch them to fit the present need. (And they don't break.) An outstanding performance.


Track Listing: Alone Together / Body and Soul / Scattered Clouds / What's New (Take 1) / Night and Day / Island of Trolls / All or Nothing at All / What's New (Take 2) / Hot House

Personnel: Anthony Ortega, as, ts (on "Island of Trolls"); Mike Wofford, p; Joe LaBarbera, d.

| Record Label: Hat Hut Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "She Sleeps, She Sleeps" CD/LP/Track Review She Sleeps, She Sleeps
by John Eyles
Published: March 15, 2016
Read "Nuit Blanche" CD/LP/Track Review Nuit Blanche
by John Kelman
Published: February 14, 2017
Read "I'm Gonna Tell You Somethin' That I Know" CD/LP/Track Review I'm Gonna Tell You Somethin' That I Know
by James Nadal
Published: August 2, 2016
Read "Tributango" CD/LP/Track Review Tributango
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 13, 2016
Read "El Viaje" CD/LP/Track Review El Viaje
by James Nadal
Published: September 14, 2016
Read "Sketches on the Radio" CD/LP/Track Review Sketches on the Radio
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 14, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

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!