Friday, January 14, 2011

World Saxophone Quartet – Yes We Can (Jazzwerkstatt, 2011)

Entering their fourth decade as a progressive musical force, the WSQ present a very exciting live album recorded in March of 2009 in Berlin. Hamiet Bluiett on baritone sax and clarinet and David Murray on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet are the only holdovers from the original lineup, but they are more than ably joined by Kidd Jordan on alto saxophone and James Carter on tenor and soprano saxophones. High energy excitement is the order of the day here, inspired by the election of the first African-American president; the group lays it all on the line. Sounding particularly inspired on the leadoff track “Hattie Wall” which was composed by one of their founding members, Julius Hemphill, the group is almost delirious with joy. Playing saxophone lines that weave in and out like someone constructing a complex garment, the horns soar over Bluiett’s low down honks and percussive bleats. The energy remains high on “The River Niger” and “Yes We Can” (which incorporates a snippet of “Hail to the Chief” as a wry salute.) The music moves into a raw bluesy territory with the stark track “The God of Pain.” Murray’s beautiful composition “The Long March to Freedom” gets an in-depth and powerful exploration before the band returns to a reprise of the potent “Hattie Wall” to close out a decisive and dynamic performance. The musicians play with great authority throughout this very exciting album, showing that regardless of the passing of time and the changing of lineups, the WSQ remains a powerful force in jazz. Yes We Can -

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