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 is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.