Friday, June 04, 2010

Odean Pope - Odeans List (In + Out Records, 2010)

Tenor saxophonist Odean Pope grew up as part of the vibrant Philadelphia music scene of the 1950's (vividly described in Archie Shepp's liner notes to this album) playing with the likes of trumpeter Lee Morgan and bassist Reggie Workman. This album presents him with a sterling cast of musicians in settings ranging from duo to trio and octet. The ensemble cast includes James Carter on tenor and baritone saxophone, Walter Blanding on tenor saxophone, David Weiss and Terell Stafford on trumpet, George Burton on piano, Lee Smith on bass and Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums. Highlights of this excellent album include "Phrygian Love Theme" which opens with a thick, patient bass solo before the horns enter the fray, riffing darkly. James Carter unveils a deep, strong baritone saxophone solo with the other horns in support. Stafford then takes over with a brisk trumpet feature which is rippling with energy. "Say It Over and Over Again" is a beautiful lengthy duet for Pope and bassist Lee Smith. Pope plays the ballad with a spare and longing tone, allowing the music to breathe with much space and making for a very soulful performance. Smith's thick, elastic bass add to the late night vibe. "Blues For Eight" is a trio feature for Pope, Smith and Watts, with thick bass and caustic saxophone building the music to a free-bop simmer. Carter is the star of "Collections" this time playing tenor saxophone. Never a wallflower, he kicks it into overdrive here with a wild freebooting solo. Pope's corrosive tenor and Watts' muscular drums develop a fine dialogue on "Odean's List." "Cis" ends the album with a lush mid-tempo performance, as the full band swings gracefully and Pope steps out for one final solo bow, with Carter's deep baritone bubbling just below the surface. This was a very good and consistently interesting album. Both the ensemble passages and the solos, particularly from Pope and the endlessly energetic James Carter were reliably exciting and made for thoroughly enjoyable listening. Odeans List -

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