Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jerome Sabbagh - One Two Three (Bee Jazz, 2009)

When saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh started landing trio gigs at various New York City jazz clubs, the band kept to jazz and popular music standards, thinking it wouldn't be too taxing. Sabbagh writes on his web site that it was just the opposite, and that playing without a pianist or guitarist made him push even harder. Inspired by the great masters of the saxophone trio jazz idiom like Sonny Rollins and Joe Henderson, Sabbagh, along with Ben Street on bass and Rodney Green on drums, recorded this album together in a small studio keeping the intimacy of their regular live gig. Pianist and composer Thelonious Monk is clearly a huge inspiration for this trio (ironic for a piano-less group!) and they cover three of his compositions here. On "Work" they get a sharp and angular approach to the music, Sabbagh branching out in a spiderweb of fractured sounds backed by probing bass and subtle drums. "Boo Boo's Birthday" struts through the wonderful melody in a cool and melodic fashion. "Off Minor" is a great way to end the album, with another great Monk melody that clearly fills the musicians with joy at the thought of the possibilities it entails. They slow things down for "Body and Soul (obligatory for tenor saxophone players) and Sabbagh takes it without accompaniment for the first half of the performance before unobtrusive bass and subtle drums join the music. Billy Strayhorn's "Clelsea Bridge" is another ballad performance, taken at a gentle tempo. This is a subtle and unpretentious album of straight-ahead jazz, and it seems to be a fine representation of their club set. Hopefully the trio will be allowed to record again, this time live on their regular gig.
One Two Three - amazon.com

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