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Bluiett: With Eyes Wide Open

Jim Santella By

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The baritone saxophone has sure made a significant impact on jazz through the years. The instrument’s voice resonates on such an open wavelength that we consider it friendly in any situation. And Hamiet Bluiett has experience with just about every jazz situation imaginable. From college to the Navy and beyond, Bluiett has encountered swing, bebop, free jazz and the avant-garde. This latest album represents happy music - creative, sentimental and highly melodic – that any audience would find enjoyable.

Jumping with unpredictable intervals on his tribute piece, Bluiett honors Thelonious Monk while guitarist Ed Cherry adds a stellar Wes Montgomery salute. It’s not a far stretch from Monk and Wes to Bluiett’s creative interpretations; however, it’s not music to absorb halfheartedly through osmosis, either. Bluiett’s quartet program, while entertaining most any audience, provides grist for the mill. You’ll want to spend some time with this and capture it all. Nasheet Waits drives with crisp, complex patterns, while Jaribu Shahid counters all around the beat. Cherry provides harmony and a lyrical charm. The three ballads, in particular, form a perfect venue for the guitarist to "sing" poetic phrases.

Don Pullen’s "1529 Gunn Street" jumps and jives with a swinging motion that recalls the days when dancers worked in pairs. Bluiett’s wake-up call title track moves ever forward with a quick, light motion, adding subtle dissonance at the very end for effect. The saxophonist builds each song carefully, making sure that too much of a good thing never spoils the work. The solo spots for each quartet member are timed so that they can build from the ground level up. Bluiett carries his featured lines from below sea level to mountaintop and beyond. Careful not to discourage the listener with unnecessary shrieks or wails, the saxophonist approaches every free-spirited moment "with eyes wide open."

Track Listing: Africa/Island Song; Sing Me a Song Everlasting; Monk & Wes; Enum; Song for Camille (Ballad For a Black Woman); 1529 Gunn Street; Mystery Tune; Deb; (With Eyes) Wide Open.

Personnel: Bluiett- baritone saxophone; Ed Cherry- guitar; Jaribu Shahid- acoustic bass; Nasheet Waits- drums.

| Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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