Probably I need say no more than mention the fact that David Sills has previously released through the Naxos label, one of jazz's pre-eminant imprints, to capture attention to Blue's the New Green, his latest. Naxos is one of those market entities you can just buy and not worry about quality, as the cats over there have sharp sharp sharp ears. Sills' West Coast Cool mixed with Desmond/Brubecky trad updates most definitely slot straight into their domain. Stan Getz is the most common frame of reference to this sax player, and the pairing is apt because of Dave's warm tone and unthreatening attack, a presence that smiles rather than pounces on your ears. Then, of course, there's the interpretational element.
Catch his opening re-work of Sonny Rollins' No Moe as an example. Slick and supple, calming while innovative, he's taken the more manneredly aggressive side of Sonny's nature into a back-boppy contemplation. When Rollins sat in with the MJQ, his instrumental voice took over and pulled that more pacific ensemble into his wont, even as restrained as it was with them. Sills completes the process by disentangling the stridency; the proliference of his own tunes on this disc demonstrates why: there's rarely a sharp edge even at his band's most energetic, always a smooth round top surface to everything, with plenty of rolling inventiveness. Guitarist Larry Koonse and pianist Chris Dawson act as both foils and complements in that respect, especially when Sills picks up the flute.
Blue's the New Green is a trip back to when the beatnik era was slipping into the upper middle class, shedding muggles for martinis, moving from the coffeehouses to the nightclubs, expanding its territory. This CD follows a hallowed tradition and proves that one needn't break one's instrument in half or summon gale storms to get the audience's attention. The moodiest cut of the set, I was a Fool to Want You, is not so much a ballad as a hip lament that constantly circles itself, Sills' sax contemplating life on the down as Dawson's piano sheds raindrops sparsely around it. It's impossible to feel sad while listening so raptly, existentially and intellectually baffled as to why so much beauty sits beside too much pain in this world. On the other hand, the closer, Dave's own Blues in Ten is pretty damned chipper despite its sobriquet…measuredly so, a meadowlark flitting through the forest after a light rain, but decidedly upbeat. Hey, take your happiness where it appears, even in a blues. Know what I mean?
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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