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This highly engaging album brings to mind the enduring impact of John Coltrane's legacy in terms of spiritual lyricism.
In the case of Howard Leshaw, whose other band is a spirited klezmer band, Coltrane's spiritually-charged lyricism is mingled, as in the case of Andy Statman's music, with a comprehensive immersion in a variety of sacred and secular Jewish musical styles.
While the indebtedness to Jewish melodies was only obvious in the first of seven Leshaw originals on this disc, "Sayief," there is a prevailing keening and rhythmically daring tone to Leshaw's tenor sax playing that connects directly to his association with klezmer music.
The original compositions are packed with well elaborated solos. Particularly attractive is Leshaw's foray into a kind of deep Jewish blues on "Flower," in which his solo is sensitively supported by the constantly alert rhythm section of pianist Jon Davis, bassist Paul Gabrielson, and drummer Dean Rickard.
Leshaw and band also bring considerable originality to that well-trod form of jazz waltz on "Buckle's Waltz."
Catch this group on their home turf in Brooklyn if you can. There is little doubt that the Coltrane influence of the Atlantic and early Impulse! period will continue to spark surprisingly original directions.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.