Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sam Newsome - The Art of the Soprano Vol. 1 (Sam Newsome, 2012)

Saxophonist Sam Newsome broke through during the "young lions" era of jazz in the early 1990's. He played in the band of trumpeter Terence Blanchard among others. During the mid-90's he began to concentrate solely on the soprano saxophone as his main voice and over the past couple of years has released some highly regarded albums of unaccompanied saxophone. This is a solo album as well with an ambitious playlist that runs the gamut from jazz classics to world music inspired originals. What really impressed me when I was listening to this album was the sheer range of sounds that Newsome can get from his instrument. From percussive pops to swirls of air and reverberating drones, he gets a much wider palette than I would have thought possible. It is impressive to hear him play the entire suite of John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme," a somewhat audacious step for solo saxophone, but carrying it off quite well and taking that familiar and reverent music from an entirely different angle. Three Duke Ellington compositions are represented, "In a Mellow Tone," "In a Sentimental Mood" and "Caravan" and all if these tunes are handled well from the exotic touches of "Caravan" through the gentle ballad of "In a Sentimental Mood." Finally, three short songs that reference the African continent show Newsome's ability to conjure divergent rhythm and texture which keep the music both technically impressive but also a joy to hear. Art of Soprano Vol. 1 - amazon.com

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