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Twin Sax Attack: Ancestors/Introducing the E.R.A./Bearing the Bell/The Early Show


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Mario Pavone's Double Tenor Quintet

The E.R.A.
Introducing the E.R.A.
Empty Room Music

Andrew Robson
Bearing the Bell - The Hymns of Thomas Tallis
ABC Classics

David Bond Quintet
The Early Show (Live at Twins Jazz)

Two saxophones in one lineup quite often used to mean competition, not collaboration. Duets and co-leaders are not unheard of, but dominant instruments have a natural inclination for individuality: you wouldn't catch Jagger hiring a second lead singer for The Stones. Each of these recordings features two saxophones out front, but each creates a dynamic within the whole that is unique to the approach.

The tunes on Mario Pavone's Ancestors create the curious effect of seeming longer than they are. There is so much musical information packed into the first three minutes of these performances that it's hard to wrap your mind around the fact that there's more to come. As befits a band with a bassist as its leader, it's the rhythm section that drives the music, particularly Pavone's springy bass and pianist Peter Madsen's exploding chords. Along with drummer Gerald Cleaver they would make a fantastic recorded trio, but the inclusion of saxophonists Tony Malaby and Jimmy Greene make this small group sound like a rollicking big band.

The E.R.A. is a New York-based septet who perform original material and toy with tempo, duos and trios, improvisation and composition and abstraction contrasted with literal interpretation. The makeup of the band is unusual (two drummers, bass, two saxophones, trombone and guitar/cello) and for a group with this much percussion their sound on Introducing is curiously chamber-like, with smaller offshoots making a greater impression than the collective does as a whole. Chris Welcome's plucked cello is particularly distinctive and while four of the seven members write, it's him and up-and-coming bassist Shayna Dulberger who steal the spotlight from the more assertive voices.

Australian alto saxophonist Andrew Robson leads a chamber group on a program of hymns by English Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis on Bearing the Bell, a recording that takes its lead from the ecclesiastical works of Jan Garbarek. Robson recruited jazz players Sandy Evans (tenor and soprano), James Greening (trombone and pocket trumpet) and Steve Elphick (bass) to explore these vaguely familiar melodies that place the listener in a cathedral during a service, where the music is more inspiring than the sermon. The playing is intimate, heartfelt and guileless and achieves a beauty of expression that makes for a transporting listening experience.

Coltrane's "sheets of sound" reached its apotheosis when he found a band that agreed to play in that style. The David Bond Quintet, recorded live at Twins Jazz in Washington DC, features the under-recorded but always exciting Coltrane acolyte Andrew White, whose appearance alone makes this disc worth acquiring. The band starts in the Classic Quartet's style of a careening-just-about-to-lose- control musical torrent and brings it to its logical fruition on this CD's "Coltrane," where Bond's alto and White's tenor spiral and interlock with each other and interweave with their bandmates, particularly Steve Novosel's anchoring bass and Bob Butta's crashing piano. The band also pays tribute to Sun Ra, Dewey Redman and Jimmy Lyons, but it's Coltrane who set the standard for this level of improvisational excitement and the David Bond Quintet rise to it.

Tracks and Personnel


Tracks: Ancestors; Strata Blue; Tomes; Iskmix; Arc For Puppy; Beige Structure; Pachuca; Andrew.

Personnel: Mario Pavone: bass; Tony Malaby: tenor & soprano sax; Jimmy Greene: tenor & soprano sax; Peter Madsen: piano; Gerald Cleaver: drums.

Introducing the E.R.A.

Tracks: Into Pieces; Septagon; Year of the Pig; Salome; Gaspard; Threefer (Slight Return); Threefer; Hand of Seven; Romans; Close.

Personnel: Jonathan Moritz: soprano, tenor sax; Marcus Cummins: soprano, alto sax; Ryan Snow: trombone; Chris Welcome: guitar, cello; Shayna Dulberger: bass; Juan Pablo Carletti: drums; John McLellan: drums.

Bearing the Bell - The Hymns of Thomas Tallis

Tracks: The First Tune; The Second Tune; The Third Tune; The Fourth Tune; The Fifth Tune; The Sixth Tune; The Seventh Tune; The Eighth Tune; Ordinal.

Personnel: Andrew Robson: alto, soprano sax; Sandy Evans: tenor, soprano sax; James Greening: trombone, pokcet trumpet; Steve Elphick: bass.

The Early Show (Live at Twins Jazz)

Tracks: The Early Show; Rock Out; Coltrane; Dew Drops/Lyons; Sun Ra Swing.

Personnel: David Bond: alto saxophone; Andrew White: tenor saxophone; Bob Butta: piano; Steve Novosel: bass; Luther Gray: drums.

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