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Jon Gordon is easily one of the top alto saxophonists of his generation. He is well-versed in bop, though his eleventh CD as a leader (and second for ArtistShare) covers a lot of new ground, compiling music from several different sessions and focusing exclusively on his stimulating originals.
His quintet session with pianist Kevin Hays, guitarist Ben Monder, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Bill Stewart actually predates the debut of the ArtistShare label, but these tracks are no mere leftovers from another record date. "Havens is a constantly shifting post-bop vehicle, while the introspective "Within Worlds is a haunting melody featuring the leader on soprano sax.
Organist Gary Versace and drummer Mark Ferber are on hand for the eerie "Sicily," with Versace's subtle backing providing fuel for the leader. Martin and drummer Bill Campbell support Gordon in "Twilight Soul (Outsider)," which suggests a lonely stroll on a deserted street late at night.
Just as compelling are the tracks with Monder and drummer Billy Drummond. The intense "Joe Said So and mournful ballad "Visit contrast greatly with "Suite-Notes on Freedom." The explosive chemistry within its first movement, "Notes on Fascism," features Gordon wailing over Monder's furious rock-like guitar, followed by "Witness," a brief, emotional interlude on soprano with the quintet. Gordon remains on soprano for "New Eyes," a brief free-form finale that sounds as if it was improvised on the spot. It's clear from these provocative sessions that Jon Gordon isn't one to coast on his reputation.
Track Listing: Joe Said So; Visit; Havens; Within Worlds; Sicily; Twilight Soul (Outsider); Notes on Fascism; Witness; New Eyes.
Personnel: Jon Gordon: alto sax, soprano sax; Ben Monder: electric guitar; Billy Drummond: drums; Kevin Hays: piano; Joe
Martin: bass; Bill Stewart: drums; Gary Vercase: organ; Bill Campbell: drums; Mark Ferber: drums.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.