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Shadow Song is by and large a mellow, reflective album. Yet there are moments when a more searching, restive sound emerges, transporting Howard Leshaw's quartet to another level of intensity and interplay.
Tenor saxophonist Leshaw, who also happens to be a world-class klezmer clarinet player, composed the album's seven songs. The opening track, "Sayief, sounds like an outtake from the mid-period Coltrane quartet. Leshaw offers an insistent solo, then is capably answered by pianist Jon Davis with a statement of considerable authority. Elsewhere drummer Dean Rickard propels "Siempre Lulu with some swirling, kinetic percussion. "Sirirat features fine, tender work from the leader, stretching out over a moody background. On the other hand, "Flower has some bluesy, brash playing by Leshaw, graced with a terse solo from bassist Paul Gabrielson.
Shadow Song does not feature difficult music, but it is nonetheless challenging and complex. The band essentially explores the fertile terrain the Coltrane quartet stalked before Coltrane headed straight for the wilderness. The Howard Leshaw quartet plays music that is well-grounded, yet contains the kernel of adventure that makes all jazz worthwhile. All in all, Shadow Song is a very fine effort from a group of accomplished and assured musicians.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.