Duke Ellington's exquisite "In A Sentimental Mood," the first track on their memorable team-up album for Impulse! is here given a luscious treatment with the subtle addition of strings. "Invitation," the Coltrane version of which was found on Standard Coltrane a 1962 Prestige release but actually recorded in 1958. Like that version it's given a slow ballad treatment with Atzmon on sultry tenor augmented by the string quartet.
Atzmon's lone composition is the modal "Minor Thing" very much in keeping with Coltrane's mid to late period sound but with the addition of some yodel-like trills from the tenor, the effect of which is slightly reminiscent of Leon Thomas's distinctive vocals. The longest track on the album, there's a short ensemble section inserted at around the 3:55 mark which interrupts the flow but doesn't affect the overall appreciation of the number which is, as implied from the record's title, very effective in conjuring up the spirit of Trane. There's also a very satisfying coda too.
"Soul Eyes" recorded by Coltrane on his eponymous 1962 album, is here given a sumptuous string quartet backing countered by Atzmon's rich tenor. With Atzmon now on soprano, the relatively thin version of "Blue Train" (but only when compared with its relatively brass-heavy progenitor on Coltrane's Blue Note classic) is nonetheless atmospherically charged and sensitively appealing. On Coltrane's unforgettable ballad "Naima" the strings work well to produce an elegant interpretation.
A lyrical version of "Giant Steps," played as a quartet, starts out slowly but gradually picks up the pace with the piano and bass transforming the whole piece into a more sprightly version. The Loesser / McHugh standard "Say It (Over And Over Again)" appeared on the Impulse! 1963 release Ballads and it's here that both the string quartet and Atzmon's saxophone meld together most appealingly. As a respectful and often imaginative paean to the late, great saxophonist, who died 50 years ago this year, this album works very well indeed.
In A Sentimental Mood; Invitation; Minor Thing; Soul Eyes; Blue Train; Naima;
Giant Steps; Say It (Over And Over Again).
Gilad Atzmon: tenor and soprano saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute;
Frank Harrison: piano; Yaron Stavi : double bass; Enzo Zirilli: drums plus The
Sigamos String Quartet: Ros Stephen, Marianne Haynes: violin; Felix Tanner:
viola; Laura Anstee: cello.