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Undeniably one of jazz’ foremost soprano saxophonists, Jane Ira Bloom is known for her willingness to take chances, or at times taking the lesser known path while skirting the fringes of modern mainstream jazz. On The Red Quartets Ms. Bloom performs with all the graceful majesty which has become her trademark while working with an ensemble which represents the creme’ de la creme’ of modern jazz and innovation. Here, Jane Ira Bloom enlists the support of jazz masters Fred Hersch (p), Bobby Previte (d) and Mark Dresser (b).
Jane Ira Bloom emits a sense of joy through her soprano sax yet she is quite capable of hitting a somber note or two as in the opener, “Always Hope”. Along with Fred Hersch’s huge and somewhat grandiose block chords and heartfelt chord voicings, Ms Bloom’s delivery demonstrates her highly proficient utilization of tremolo and vibrato. The combined interplay is emotionally charged yet not overly saccharine, as this piece is somewhat of a sentimental ballad, which highlights the ensuing synergy between Bloom and the gifted Hersch. The Styne/Cahn classic “Time After Time” is sublime and passionate while “Jax Calypso” is a perfect vehicle for Ms Bloom to assert the melodic thematic statements through her articulate phrasing and highly expressionistic inflections. Here, Hersch reinvents and toys with the melody line which serves as an intro of sorts for Bobby Previte’s brilliant drum solo. Previte performs triplets and difficult rhythmic manipulations in odd time signatures as he effortlessly bounces off his “cowbell” and toms, evoking the sense of two percussionists in attendance. “Five Full Fathoms” features precise yet odd-metered rhythms as Ms Bloom and Hersch perform complex thematic statements in unison. Here, the great Mark Dresser maintains the sturdy pulse through well-defined walking bass lines as Previte gets a bit frisky behind the kit. Again, Previte is masterful as he provides the off-kilter accents, fills and drops a few bombs here and there. Bloom’s “Five Full Fathoms” borders free-jazz and post bop modernism yet the composition as a whole is well structured and easy to grasp, which is evident throughout all of these pieces. On “Emergency”, the ensemble accelerates the pace as once again, they deviate a bit from the mainstream part of the production and digress into some “free-jazz” territory. As the title implies, the razor-sharp ensemble work is frenetic and emits a sense of urgency. The Red Quartets is all about class and finesse which represents a listening experience of the highest order....Strongly Recommended... * * * * *
Track Listing: 1. Always Hope
2. Time After Time
3. Monk's Rec Room
4. Tell Me Your Diamonds
5. Jax Calypso
6. Chagall/How Deep Is Your Ocean
7. Five Full Fathoms
8. It's a Corrugated World
9. Climb Inside Her Eyes
11. Einstein's Red/Blue Universe
Jane Ira Bloom; Soprano Saxophone: Fred Hersch; Piano: Mark Dresser; Bass: Bobby Previte; Drums
Produced by Jane Ira Bloom: All compositions by Jane Ira Bloom except