BARITONE MADNESS / MINGUS: Moanin’. BELLIVEAU: Remembering the Aramo. The C.B. Shuffle. O’ROURKE: I-Yor. Port NOLA. Turbulent Trane. June. WICKENHEISER: Requested. FRAGOS-BAKER-GASPARRE: I Hear a Rhapsody. BANE: A Long Time Coming. The Angels’ Share. J. SMITH: Ready and Able / Keith O’Rourke, Pat Belliveau, Gareth Bane, bar-sax; Kodi Hutchinson, bs; Tyler Hornby, dm / Chronograph CRO78
Here’s something different: a band made up of three baritone saxes with rhythm, playing a program of mostly original pieces with one pop standard (I Hear a Rhapsody) and one piece by Charles Mingus (Moanin’). The band comes from Alberta, Canada, and really knows how to kick butt.
All three of our saxists—Keith O’Rourke, Pat Belliveau and Gareth Bane—really swing and play with gusto as well as with good imagination. Moanin’ only has one solo, by O’Rourke, although two of the three saxists improvise against one another while the third plays the repeating bass line in the last two choruses. Belliveau’s original, Remember the Aramo, sports a Latin beat and features some creamy playing by the trio as a unit in addition to excellent solos by all three: first Belliveau, then O’Rourke and then Bane.
O’Rourke’s I-Yor is an old-fashioned slow swinger, a modern-day cousin of the Pink Panther theme, and on this one especially you can admire the tight coordination yet loose swing of Kodi Hutchinson on bass and Tyler Hornby on drums. The loose, creative interplay of the three horns tells you that they’re used to playing with one another, as they have great rapport. Port NOLA has a kind of modern-day New Orleans beat (think of Professor Longhair or the Dirty Dozen Brass Band), and the principal theme is an attractive one. O’Rourke’s solo here has a distinctly R&B feel to it, yet it is also creative, forming an entirely new melody over the changes.
Turbulent Trane channels the spirit of the late, renowned tenor saxist without copying him. Indeed, this one, too, has a strong R&B feel to the opening theme, with more interesting changes saved for the middle four. O’Rourke’s solo, however, is completely original in style, not trying in any way to emulate Trane’s “sheets of sound,” and Bane’s solo sounds closer in style to Sonny Rollins. Requested has a sort of a Caribbean rhythm, the simple tune well developed by Belliveau and O’Rourke, but again it’s their playing together as a unit that captures your attention. It’s such a pleasure to hear three such talented jazz musicians really listening to one another!
The famous ballad I Hear a Rhapsody is transformed into a sort of Latin swinger, with a really outstanding solo by O’Rourke. The somewhat “heavy blues” feel of A Long Time Coming brings out the best in Bane, with Belliveau following him and surprising solos by bassist Hutchinson and drummer Hornby. The unison chorus by the three saxists is beautifully played as well.
The C.B. Shuffle has a really quirky beat, funky and with an odd pause near the end of each chorus. Bane and Belliveau are the soloists here, although Hornby has some wonderful drum breaks. The looseness of the beat allows the saxists to play sparse lines interspersed with quick little figures. The Angels’ Share, on the other hand, has a slow melodic line played against a double-time bass figure at the outset, mezzo-piano by our sax trio. Bane’s solo maintains this relaxed feeling while Hutchinson’s bass plays angular figures beneath him, then he takes his own solo, continuing both the musical content and the mood that Bane set up. He then follows this by playing one repeated note while the trio of saxes play above him, with another solo by Bane in between the ensemble passages.
June opens with a repeated lick that moves up and down harmonically, following which the other two saxes join him in a melodic theme. This, too, is taken at a medium tempo, with Bane and O’Rourke crafting lovely solos. The album ends with Ready and Able, an uptempo swinger that starts with the three baritones in unison, playing a fast bop lick—they almost sound like an all-baritone version of the old band Supersax. Belliveau is the first soloist up, playing brilliantly as usual, then Bane with a completely contrasting style and finally drummer Hornby playing breaks. A good time is had by all.
This is a wonderful album of straightahead jazz played with imagination and very high creativity.
—© 2019 Lynn René Bayley
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