Director of Jazz Studies at the prestigious Harvard-Westlake School in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, Shawn Costantino features a blend of contemporary and modern jazz in a nicely packaged collection of originals and covers on Waltz for Anne, the saxophonist/educator's first recoding as leader. Armed with a graduate degree from DePaul University, where he honed his skills as the lead alto player for the renowned DePaul Jazz Ensemble, Costantino established himself performing behind such giants as the late James MoodyPhil WoodsJim McNeely, and David "Fathead" Newman.
Waltz for Anne is a tour de force of exceptional reed play from Costantino, who engages in a conversation of eight challenging piecesemploying the diverse voices of the alto, tenor, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute and alto fluteand makes a superb musical statement. Don't be misled by the saxophonist's multi-instrumental performance here; this is not a solo recording. Costantino plays as part of a quintet, with band mate Andrew Synowiec playing a major role on electric and acoustic guitars. It is Synowiec, in fact, who opens up the music on the first piece, a funky rendition of the Lennon/McCartney pop classic, "Can't Buy Me Love."
Costantino contributes four airy tunes, beginning with "Whatever You Do," "The Transplant," "Song for Ryan" and the delicate humbling title track revealing this teacher's talents as a writer. The love standard "Don't Let Me Be Lonely," is not to be missed eithersoft and sensitive, it is truly a highlight of the disc. Costantino's rendition of Ray Noble's gorgeous "The Touch of Your Lips," clocking in at almost eleven minutes, is just as warm and tenderall of it pleasantly pleasurable.
With Waltz for Anne, Costantino stakes his claim as someone to watch for in the jazz world; there's no waltzing around that. His breakout performance on reedsand the quality of his musicis sure to bring this young educator/musician some well-deserved attention.
Track Listing: Can't Buy Me Love; Whatever You Do; Don't Let Me Be Lonely; The Transplant; Waltz for Anne; The Touch of Your Lips; Song for Ryan; Bailout.
Personnel: Shawn Costantino: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, flute, alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet; Andrew Synowiec: acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Lincoln Cleary: piano, Fender Rhodes, organ; Jens Kuross: drums; David Hughs: bass.
I love jazz because it swings.
I was first exposed to jazz in Houston.
I met Joe LoCascio and Bob Henschen.
The best show I ever attended was Pat Martino.
The first jazz record I bought was Time Out by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
My advice to new listeners is to relax on 2 and 4 beats.