About time we had the sax put back where it belongs. After Dave Sanborn, Kenny G, George Howard, and God only knows how many other weenies, Gato, Wayne, Dewey, and the finer tunesmiths have been rolling in their graves…er, if graves they all have (and I certainly don't want to rush the ones that don't!). In Carswell, not only does Tom Gullion play one sophisticated, angular, and inspired trad-n-fusiony sax (and occasional flute), he also gives his crew a hell of a lot of latitude to roust the hell out of each cut.
Yes, I think we can safely say that the Age Of Jacking Around is now kaput, and cats is gettin' serious once more, 'cause this slab is a righteous exercise in re-establishing what's supposed to be done with that leviathan instrument: I mean a cool but dead-on re-evocation of where things left off just before the goop 'n treaclemeisters took over. Gullion knows his way around a convoluted chart and compositionally sustains several melodies simultaneously while leaving plenty of room for improv. Take care, though, as the difference between the the two isn't always what it appears, and that's the sign of an intelligent comp.
Then, from two session locations (La Crosse, Wis. and Chicago, Ill.), there's David Cooper's burning trumpet, Mark Urness' and Shawn Sommer's abstract bass playing, Tim Whalen and Vijay Tellis' celestial keys, and Dane Richeson and Ernie Adams pointillistic percussions, each and every one of them a separate voice integrated into a constantly weaving whole. I was frequently reminded of Nucleus (Ian Carr's killer old ensemble), Passport (Klaus Doldinger's fusion band), a bit of Isotope (Gary Boyle's old home), and many of the ultra-hip 70s jazz-fusion outfits, something we could use a lot more of.
Carswell is definitely a step back to a time when brainy chops dominated this sound. It's a sax CD, but the sharing of a good deal of the time with the keyboards lends a very Zawinulish air to everything as well, a Weather Reporty vibe that more than a few players outside Gullion's purview would do well to emulate.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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