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Saturday, November 30, 2013

CD Review: Saxophonics - The River Flows At Night

Keith Robinson (alt/sop); Steve Summers (alt/ten); Graeme Wilson (ten); Niall Armstrong (bar).
(Review by Lance.)
Saxophonics go back a few years now - I remember them with a slightly different line-up back in the days of the Side Café. At the time they were very much based on Bobby Watson's 29th St. Saxophone Quartet and much of the material was drawn from the pen of Watson.
The 29th St. SQ is still an influence on Saxophonics - and every other saxophone quartet in the world - but these days the material is home grown by way of original compositions by band members. On this CD six of the compositions are by Wilson and four are by Armstrong.
If you haven't heard Saxophonics live - and you soon will have the opportunity (more later) - imagine a Bach fugue with the string quartet replaced by four saxophones weaving contrapuntal, angular, lines intertwining intriguingly and effectively by four virtuoso players. It is so well done it isn't always easy to separate the written parts from the improvisatory ones.
Several of Wilson's pieces are familiar having heard them in other settings - Street of Furs and The New Wallow being two such opuses to make the transition without mishap. The title track is another dream arrangement. The image of the river flowing at night is captured perfectly. Armstrong's, to the best of my knowledge, were written solely with the quartet in mind and his beefy baritone bass lines ensure a firm foundation is laid for the ensemble.
The CD is due to be launched as part of a lunchtime concert at the Lit and Phil, Westgate Rd., Newcastle, on Friday December 13 (1pm) where many of the numbers on the CD will be performed and the disc itself will be on sale for £10. It is also available from www.saxophonics.org
Lance.

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