Anyone who's ever collected crappy bootlegs of a favorite band will understand the illogical passion at the core of this tribute to Yes. SF Bay Area saxophonist with funkateers Ten Ton Chicken has transformed himself into a one-man sax quartet, charting out and playing all the parts of tenor, soprano, alto, and baritone (and on the gorgeous "We Have Heaven," a baritone floating on a chorus of altos).
Smeltz possesses the gutbucket throatiness of '50s jump blues but harnesses it to the beautiful, intersecting lines of multiple sax tones that evoke memories of David Murray, Arthur Blythe, Von Freeman and other horn legends. He's really that good.
This album is the product of six years of working and reworking the material, and the end product exposes hitherto unseen possibilities in these compositions. "Hovian Fantasy" begins with a saunter down a New Orleans alley and then attacks Steve Howe's folk roots in a medley that includes "Clap" and "The Ancient." What jumps out at one is how breathlessly pretty this music is when handled by Smeltz, whose only collaborators are brother George Smeltz on some unobtrusive drumming and fellow TTC member Gary Morrell, who plays some insightful guitar on "And You And I," which shines here as a song of pure joy, the inarticulate speech of flowers and streams.
Yes should be flattered and their fans will be pleased for a whole host of reasons by this lovingly crafted gem.
Track Listing: We Have Heaven; Turn of the Century; Hovian Fantasy (Clap-Arada-Mood For A Day-The Ancient-Sound Chaser-Clap); And You And I; The Big Medley (To Be Over-Future Times-Heart of the Sunrise-Then-Southside of the Sky-To Be Over)
Personnel: Jamison Smeltz - all saxes, George Smeltz - drums, Gary Morrell - guitar & mandolin
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.