I've written before of this cat Bill Furman who worked at the Platterpuss Records shop in Hermosa Beach and was a BIG influence in forming my musical tastes early on. Well, one fine summer's day, I walked in and said "Waddaya got new for me, bubba?" He grinned, handed over two LPs someone had just traded in, Modern Drama and Slalom, and said "You dig Oregon, McCandless, and Chuck Mangione, you go for the classical elements in jazz. Well, check this new Jane Ira Bloom chick out!" Anything Bill recommended, I bought, and, man, was he ever right. I still have those exact same LPs and have followed her work off and on since, even into that glorious Butch Morris 10-CD conduction box she sat in on. God almighty, what a revelation that affair was!
That 80s-issued Modern Drama LP carried liner notes by none other than Nat Hentoff—pretty damned impressive that a complete newbie debut could snag that guy!—and received rave reviews from all quarters. From the git-go, it was understood a sax player of unusual powers had stepped into the scene. Back then, much of what she did was live in studio, improv'ed, and acknowledged to be on the edge. And if you can be brought even once into a Morris ensemble, then you needn't flash a single credential because, like Sun Ra and others, Butch demanded much from his players and still sits so far outside even the oddest jazz traditions that you need a telescope to find him, his players like stars revolving around the heliocentric gent.
In more than one sense, then, Ms. Bloom has reversed direction in Sixteen Sunsets and fallen in love with ballads, The Great American Songbook, and a chambery sort of…well, I guess it's jazz but her work has been informed by so many vectors and personal angles that trying to nail it down makes even a freely neologizing and pigeonhole-touting crit like me wriggle nervously. Let's just call it music, though it IS jazz (catch the Gershwin's Skyline / I Loves You Porgy cut to grasp my dilemma). Her spotless backing trio does a lot of comping, sometimes intriguingly and deceptively pointillistically 'cause the spotlight's firmly on Jane, though Dominic Fallacaro seamlessly sidles to the fore for a number of solos, putting some Ferrante & Teicher by way of Bill Evans into the mix.
Sixteen Sunsets isn't just jazz, it isn't just quasi-classical, nor is it just pastorale, it's an exercise in refinement and every cut is a painting. Had it emerged decades ago, Blue Note would've carried it or maybe CTI, but the slab has already been garnering much praise though it's just barely made it into venues. "Mesmerizing", "haunting", and "gorgeous" are only a few of the accolades. Nonetheless, I'm warning the listener: don't plan on doing anything else because you'll be pulled into a dream when you throw Sunsets into the player.
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