In order to play true jazz, a musician needs to assimilate all that went before him, paying particular attention to those artists who charted the course and defined the vernacular for the specific instrument that he has set out to master. In music, nothing ever gets pulled out of thin air. You carry forth a linage, and hopefully along the way, through intense study and careful examination, you can extend that lineage by putting your own fingerprint on what you play; a sort of musical DNA that separates you from everyone else. On The Wishing Well , the latest CD from tenor saxophonist Tim Armacost, we hear Tim re-examining and re-assessing that linage, while carefully placing his own ideas under a microscope, crystalizing them, absorbing them, and preserving them, not unlike a scientist does with laboratory samples of organic DNA. A native of California, 37 year old Armacost is a young lion with a mature and toasty-warm sound, a lyrical approach, and a innate sense of swing. He plays through this program of originals (plus two standards) with the grace of an albatross; gliding effortlessly over the thermal convection provided by bandmates Bruce Barth, Ray Drummond, and Billy Hart.
All the performances are on a very high level on this date, and the selection of tunes are nothing to sneer at either. Just when you thought "Body and Soul" had been played to death, Armacost gives us a version in waltz time, with a substitution in the bridge comprised of modulating two-fives, which greatly extends the harmonic interest of the piece. When listening to this disc you also will get a feeling that Armacost has been deeply moved by the music of John Coltrane(what saxophonist of the last forty years hasn't?), and his stirring rendition of Cresent shows that he is not afraid to let us know just that. The set closes with Armacost's Special Delivery; indeed special, for this up-tempo burner finds everyone inspired and in good spirits. Throughout The Wishing Well, Tim Armacost shows us that he is a voice and a talent to be reckoned with, thus earning the honorable distinction in jazz circles as being "one of the cats." Welcome aboard, Tim!
Body And Soul; Sustenance; Cresent; Black Sand Beach; The Wishing Well; Special Delivery
Tim Armacost (tenor sax); Bruce Barth (piano); Ray Drummond (bass); Billy Hard (drums)
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