Sunday, December 12, 2010

World Saxophone Quartet: Yes We Can (2010)

This live set from Berlin in 2009 by the 34-year-old World Saxophone Quartet celebrates the election of Barack Obama – as well as its own influential past in the inclusion of New Orleans saxophonist Kidd Jordan (an early mentor) and new member James Carter, a multigenre virtuoso who had admired the group since his early teens. Post-Coltrane free jazz, elegant Ellingtonian four-part harmonies and the powerful personalities of the four members (showcased in a series of arresting solo spots, notably tenorist David Murray's) make it a highly varied set, though pumping horn riffs mimicking an absent rhythm section might eventually try your patience. Nonetheless, Yes We Can represents the WSQ in exuberantly incandescent mood, from the funky opener with its wild ensemble turmoils and poignantly hymnal sounds, through fast passages in which the members play tag with each other, to bagpipe-like drones under Carter's soulful soprano wail, to stirring orchestral harmonies. Hamiet Bluiett's initially classical and then strutting, bluesy clarinet solo on the closing reprise of Hattie Wall is a standout of this upbeat album.
01. Hattie wall
02. The River Niger
03. Yes We Can
04. The God Of Pain
05. The Angel Of Pain
06. The Guessing Game
07. Long March To Freedom
08. Hattie Wall
Hammiet Bluiett, baritone saxophone, clarinet
Kidd Jordan, alto saxophone
David Murray, tenor saxophobe, bass clarinet
James Carter, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
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