Saxophonist Chris Pitsiokos
, it might be said, was standing on the shoulders of giants when he recorded this solo alto saxophone concert in January of 2019. Indeed, these six tributes take into account the accomplishments of the esteemed masters and, from their shoulders, Pitsiokos enters some rarefied air. His Speak In Tongues And Hope For The Gift Of Interpretation
is his third solo outing. His first two solo efforts, Oblivion / Ecstasy
(2015) and Valentine's Day
(2017), were released as digital documents available on Bandcamp.
In Pitsiokos' young career he has garnered recognition with trumpeter Nate Wooley
, drummer Weasel Walter
and his own trio, quartet, and electric trio that goes by the name of CP Unit. His composing leans towards a Downtown punk esthetic, one that is bent on dismembering tradition. This solo concert recording makes no bones about honoring tradition as it is taught in music conservatories. Opening with "To Charles Parker Jr.," Pitsiokos delivers a rapid-fire alto attack which is just not Bird-like, because Parker never exercised the circular breathing technique Pitsiokos employs. We can imagine he is picturing Charlie Parker
in his mind but also the music of Evan Parker
. The same can be said of "To John Zorn
," which has traces of tongue-slapping duck calls, but could also be attributed to the vocalizations of Mats Gustafsson
. Pitsiokos delivers some overblowing on "To Ornette Coleman
" working in altered pitches against tugboat blasts. For many, the highlights here are the intricate lattices of notes he sows with "To Anthony Braxton
" and "To Roscoe Mitchell
." Both pieces transition from delicate to prickly. In the end, it is Roscoe Mitchell that Pitsiokos resembles most. That might be the greatest compliment.
To Charles Parker Jr.; To Anthony Braxton; To Roscoe Mitchell; To Ornette Coleman; To Eric Dolphy; To John