Ken Franckling’s Jazz Notes

Saxophonist Greg Abate, best known for his alto prowess, adds tenor, soprano and baritone saxes, and flute, to this excellent project in an adventurous way. This two-CD project features Abate performing 14 wide-ranging tunes composed by jazz great Kenny Barron, with a trio featuring Barron on piano, Dezron Douglas on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums. 

Half of the tunes feature the leader on just one horn apiece, for example, flute on the genteel ballad “Water Lily,” soprano on “Sonia Braga” from Barron’s 2012 Brazilian Knights project, and tenor on the lively opener “Sunshower” and the pensive beauty “Rain.” After the three-day studio session last September, Abate added tasteful overdubs on the remaining tunes, pairing alto and tenor on “Golden Lotus” and “Lemuria,” flute and alto on “Cook’s Bay,” then alto and bari on the closer, “And Then Again.”

The most ambitious was Abate’s treatment on two of Barron’s best-known compositions, His overdubbing created a full big-band sax section as he explored “Innocence” and “Voyage,” soloing on soprano and alto respectively. As a result, we get to hear rich riffs, interlude melodies and harmonies that reveal rich new facets that underscore Barron’s compositional prowess. And how great it is that Barron was along for the ride.

Click here to purchase “Magic Dance: The Music of Kenny Barron”

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