Monday, March 24, 2014

Adam Lane Quartet, Oh Freedom

The Adam Lane Quartet, as I alluded to in the review of the first disk several weeks ago (type "Lane" in the search box above for that), recorded not one but two sets of traditional roots songs in 2009. The first, originally intended as a demo, came out on Cadence Jazz, and the second, Oh Freedom (CIMP 392), I take on today. This one has the full dynamic sonarity typical of Cadence-CIMP productions. In fact it is an especially good one for that, with climaxes in dynamics well defined by the uncompressed acoustics.

It is the same great band, with Adam on bass, Avram Fefer on tenor, the late Roy Campbell on trumpet and flugel and Vijay Anderson on drums. As with the first, this is not Lane going traditional as much as it is his respectful nod to the roots, the foundations of jazz. The song are arranged well to frame the melodies/structures in a way that enables the quartet to blow freely and modernly. It certainly comes off exceptionally well. There is no feeling of cut and paste here; the songs naturally lend themselves to Adam's treatment and the solos are of a piece with the tonality of the songs.

No matter what tune, from the folk rooted "This Train", to the spiritual "Go Down Moses" or the haunting ballad "Wayfaring Stranger", everything works toward a measured free blowing session. With players of this caliber of course that is what gives it two-dimensions-in-one.

Once again our recent loss of trumpet great Roy Campbell makes these sessions especially poignant, as by definition they become some of his last sessions. He sounds great. Avram Fefer does too. Adam as you expect has a presence in his ensemble and solo roles that remind you what a monumental bassist he is. Vijay Anderson makes a virtually ideal teammate too, swinging, fired-up and subtle as needed.

There's no flagging from cut to cut, so the 70-minutes of the full program goes by quickly and happily.

Of course a parallel of these two albums with the classic Mingus Blues and Roots comes to mind. The similarity lies mostly in the presence of those roots and the gesture of recognition, since Mingus adapted his own music to the roots idea. There have been others too. But none of them have quite the chemistry of modern blowing and root tunes the way these Adam Lane sets do. The blowing is great and attuned to the tunes in a special way. It's a particular pleasure to hear this one as I surely will many times before I head, I hope, for those golden gates!

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