Tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz makes a strong first impression as both a player and composer on his debut recording. Schwartz has a smooth, full-bodied tenor sound and a straight-ahead, gimmick-free style that emphasizes melody over improvisational fireworks. His patient, solidly swinging approach suggests the influence of players like Ben Webster and Stanley Turrentine.
It is as a composer, though, that Schwartz, who held the tenor sax chair in the Harvard Jazz Band between Don Braden and Josh Redman, really shines. Along with fresh takes on Rodgers and Hart's "Where or When" and Sonny Rollins' "Doxy," he offers eight originals that rise well above average fare. The stylistically diverse compositions range from the up-tempo romp "Too Much Pepper," to the Jobim-esque "Denouement," to the moody, meditative title cut. Schwartz writes tunes that sound as if they've been around for a whilewhich is meant as praise. The slow, melancholy ballad "Through the Years" is one of several tunes that had me checking the credits to see if it was a standard from the '40s or '50s that I didn't recognize. Joined by a trio of talented San Francisco cohorts, Schwartz has made a fine album of mainstream jazz that heralds the arrival of another young cat worth watching.
Too Much Pepper; Rabbit Days; Where or When; Tidepool; Through the Years; Poketown; D
Anton Schwartz, tenor sax; Paul Nagel, piano; John Shifflett, bass; Jason Lewis, drums; Josh Jones, congas (3, 4, 8).
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