Don't be deceived by the lullabye Twinkle Twinkle Little Star commencing this CD—which, in any event, soon enough breaks into interesting serial improv atop the mainline—because this quartet of highly polished highly respected sax players possesses an array of chops with a rather fulsome background in multiple modes. Perhaps the clearest indication of that resides in Prelude-Invention-Suspension, a jazz-classical song that wouldn't been out of place in the esteemed Modern Jazz Quartet's catalogue, a cut composed with marimba player Svet Stoyanov precisely in mind. The song possesses Debussy-esque passages and inventions but also tilts into Gershwin and was written by alto saxist Gary Lindsay, as was half the entire CD.
The contributions of the saxophonists, however, guide the cut from Impressionism into Jazz Moderne and aspects of neoclassicalism with Paul Winter-ish world music. Interestingly, when Gary Keller and Ed Calle step out for solos, the background compeer chorus provides an arresting interplay of harmonic bedding and then variegated interpretations. No one remains in any particular mindset for very long, skittering all over the place as the rhythm section maintains terra firma. I've mentioned that the sax is coming ever more back into its own after a long drought of New Age saccharine, and it's bands like this one who, after cats like Greg Osby and Steve Coleman fought like demons to advance things, are re-setting the timeclock. This denigrates neither contingent, Osby & Coleman remain leonine in the memory, but I find the work of such as the Miami Saxophone Quartet very necessary. Something was lost between The Heroic Era (Monk, Coltrane, Mingus, Miles, etc.) and never bridged properly—again, except in the work of Strata Institute and the like (to a lesser degree, the Either/Orchestra and their ilk)—and must be reinvestigated.
Frankly, I don't care if not a damn one of them ever proceeds past this point 'cause the mode expands the catalogue and pleases ear and mind tremendously, slowly progressing, carefully re-investing. Four of a Kind is a live document presented to a rapt and ensorcelled crowd eating up everything from the mellifluous Early Autumn to the N'Awleans vivacious It's a Raggy Waltz to the quasi-experimento-jazz-classical Prelude. In the best small big band tradition, MSQ entablatures a full and sophisticated platform from which player and audience meet and lock horns, one aggressively playing with time and sound, the other semi-passively feeding the energy back in a loop so that all create the environment in which magic enters the mix and takes things to the next step higher. What more can you ask from any music?
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles