Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

2

Sam Newsome: The Art of the Soprano, Vol. 1

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Sam Newsome's The Art of the Soprano, Vol. 1 is a solo soprano saxophone outing, While not unprecedented—Steve Lacy and Evan Parker have done this before—it certainly is unusual. The straight horn all alone: no bass, no drums, no piano or guitar. Sounds lonely, and a little too sonically spare.

But no one has gone deeper into solo soprano than Newsome. The saxophonist, who honed his artist chops in trumpeter Terence Blanchard's groups on tenor sax in the early 1990s, switched to the straight horn in 1996. He has become a pioneering voice on the instrument. His second solo recording, Blue Soliloquy (Self Published, 2009) met with a wide critical acclaim. Art of the Soprano, Vol. 1 is even better, with its focus on three separate suites, and the increased use of Newsome's incorporation of a variety of unusual technniques, including multiphonics, the ringingly percussive "slap tonguing," circular breathing, Middle Eastern lines, and the blowing of the horn onto the strings of a piano to create long, subtle sustaining tones that act as a sort of enhanced silence behind the soprano sound.

The three suites are saxophone legend John Coltrane's A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1965) (and it takes some nerve to tackle that one); a three-tune Duke Ellington medley; and Newsome's own "Soprano de Africana." Newsome wisely shuffled the sections of the suites, beginning with Ellingtons's "In a Mellowtone," moving into his haunting "Burkino Faso," from "Soprano de Africana," then to "Part 1" of Coltrane's masterpiece, "Acknowledgment."

The mix of the familiar and Newsome's originals blend into innovative statement, with the voice of a soprano saxophone that very often doesn't sound like a soprano saxophone at all in the traditional sense. Newsome shifts from "car-horn-in-an-echoing-tunnel" blowing that segues into an electro-industrial percussive resonance on Coltrane's "Acknowledgement," to the flute-like shimmer that introduces Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood," along with the marimba-esque clunking that announces the saxophonist's own "Zulu Witch Doctor."

These are strange sounds, put together into a strangely compelling program—highly original and oddly gorgeous.

Track Listing: The Ellington Medley: In a Mellow Tone; Soprano de Aficana: Burkino Faso; A Love Supreme: Acknowledgement; Soprano de Africana: Sub Saharan Dialogue; The Ellington Medley: In a Sentimental Mood; Soprano de Afriacana: Zulu Witch Doctor; A Love Supreme: Resolution; The Ellington Medley: Caravan; Soprano de Africana: Fela!; A Love Supreme: Pursuance; A Love Supreme: Psalm.

Personnel: Sam Newsome: soprano saxophone.

Title: The Art of the Soprano, Vol. 1 | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lux CD/LP/Track Review Lux
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 20, 2018
Read Unleashed CD/LP/Track Review Unleashed
by John Sharpe
Published: January 20, 2018
Read I Think I'm Going To Eat Dessert CD/LP/Track Review I Think I'm Going To Eat Dessert
by Jerome Wilson
Published: January 20, 2018
Read 20 CD/LP/Track Review 20
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 20, 2018
Read Roppongi CD/LP/Track Review Roppongi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Is Life Long? CD/LP/Track Review Is Life Long?
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 19, 2018
Read "Shades Of Life" CD/LP/Track Review Shades Of Life
by James Nadal
Published: July 18, 2017
Read "Involution" CD/LP/Track Review Involution
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 6, 2018
Read "Triloka: Music for Strings and Soloists" CD/LP/Track Review Triloka: Music for Strings and Soloists
by Marithe Van der Aa
Published: May 7, 2017
Read "Graviton" CD/LP/Track Review Graviton
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 8, 2017
Read "Déjà Vu" CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read "Solo" CD/LP/Track Review Solo
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 11, 2018