As the first cut, Welcome (Peace for the Earth), to Chris Alpiar's The Jazz Expression opened up, I was inflowing heavy-duty Pharaoh Sanders vibes, and indeed the feeling remained throughout the disc, as Alpiar's steeped in the classic jazz tradition of Sanders, Shepp, Coltrane, Konitz, Coleman, and the passle of horns gentz who grabbed listeners' frontal lobes and reconfigured them…to no one's regret. Music like this is supposed to break through consensus norms and transform things, and Expression has no problems whatsoever in doing that. Though Welcome opens rather serenely, it's not long before Alpiar starts leaping into the skies, and the real experience begins.
Not that this is an all-blow-out session, far from it—Pete Rende's piano work is far more sedate but just as engrossing and angular—but Alpiar dominates the disc and the group when he goes to it. He can't help it, there's an inner world present that needs to escape and dance, remonstrate, and expostulate for the listener. However, since the songs are looooong, the guy gives plenty of room to Bob Meyer (drums) and Matt Pavolka (bass) as well, and so Welcome is not merely a song but a mural of four talented hipcats creating a jungle of jazz. It slows, mellows, and grooves at the close…only to have Jupiter, Deep Space set the pulse to racing again.
If you dug Charles Gayle's Look Up (here), and that is one knock-out disc, Alpiar moves the free modality back over into a lot more framed exposition, more—hmm, how shall I put this?—mannered, I suppose, as the intensity is nowhere near Gayle's while the heart and narrative definitely are. One thing's certain, it sure as hell won't attract any of the Kenny G / Herb Alpert crowd. There's even a bit of the ol' Gato in Chris when calming out a bit, but, trust me, once he revs up into his glorious racket, you're not going to worry too much about what is and what is not genteel, just so long as he keeps playing his brains out. Don't even think about just putting this on and doing your taxes, 'cause it ain't that kind of music, even despite the mellifluous lyrical passages. Alpiar and some of his more recent reeds kinsmen are dragging the sax back into a serious spotlight after the axe had been spending far too much time over the last couple of decades in commercial sugary La La Land.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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