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Glenn Kostur: The Way of It

Jack Bowers By

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Glenn Kostur, a woodwind specialist who can play anything from piccolo to bass saxophone, limits himself to tenor and baritone on The Way of It, a genial session recorded in June 2017 in Greeley, CO, on which Kostur enlists faculty members from the University of Northern Colorado as his back-up team.

Kostur, who once toured and recorded with the legendary trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, has a nice day gig of his own as director of Jazz Studies at the University of New Mexico. On this busman's holiday, he and his mates cruise confidently through a half-dozen of his engaging compositions along with evergreens by Eddie Heywood ("Canadian Sunset"), Horace Silver ("Quicksilver") and McCoy Tyner ("You Taught My Heart to Sing"), closing with Samuel Ward / Katherine Bates' "America the Beautiful."

Kostur's music is thematic in that he writes with specific images in mind. For example, the New Orleans-grooved "Romp and Run" (based, one suspects, on "Sweet Georgia Brown") was written for his hyperactive dog, Hildegard, and the shapely ballad "Ella" for the family cat, who in turn was named for a well-known singer, surname Fitzgerald. The gospel-inflected "Gather the Spirits," he writes, is no spiritual but rather "a celebration of rounding up the ingredients for cocktails," while "Everything Is Canceled" was inspired by a bumper sticker, "That's the Way of It" by his mother's pet expression when faced with life's realities. Kostur dedicates his arrangement of Tyner's "You Taught My Heart" to his wife, Kathy.

Kostur plays baritone sax on seven numbers, tenor on the other three. As one would assume, he is adept and at ease on either one. One of his saxophone heroes, he says, is the late Nick Brignola, and there is more than a touch of Brignola in Kostur's sharp and limber baritone. As for his colleagues, they are stalwart in support and perceptive when soloing, especially pianist Dana Landry whose snappy ad libs rival the leader's in sagacity and import. Together, they flatten the axiom that those who can't, teach. These gentlemen can—and do. Bassist Erik Applegate and drummer Jim White make sure the rhythm smokes, as does guitarist Steve Kovalcheck on four tracks.

As small-group sessions go, The Way of It is ship-shape and eminently seaworthy. Whether that is enough to keep it afloat in a veritable ocean of comparable enterprises remains to be seen.

Glenn Kostur: baritone, tenor saxophone; Steve Kovalcheck: guitar (1, 3, 4, 7, 8); Dana Landry: piano; Erik Applegate: acoustic, electric bass; Jim White: drums.

Track Listing: That’s the Way of It; Canadian Sunset; Gather the Spirits; Quicksilver; A Longer Table; You Taught My Heart to Sing; Romp and Run; Ella; Everything Is Canceled; America the Beautiful.

Title: The Way of It | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Artist Alliance Records


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