Odean Pope

Locked & Loaded: Live at the Blue Note

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The Odean Pope Saxophone Choir, led by tenor saxophonist and composer/arranger Odean Pope, consists of nine saxophonists plus a rhythm section and occasional guest saxophonists, heard over the course of several nights at the Blue Note. The powerful, straight-ahead "Epitome" introduces the reeds alone at first, with the leader's moving solo being unaccompanied and the rhythm section finally added near its conclusion. Michael Brecker is the guest soloist in the furious post-bop vehicle "Prince Lasha," while Joe Lovano is showcased in the soulful ballad "Cis" and the turbulent, somewhat mysterious "Terrestrial," which alternates between post-bop and free jazz. Pope's scoring of two John Coltrane compositions is breathtaking. "Central Park West" suggest a leisurely stroll in Manhattan on a breezy autumn day (featuring soloists Julian Pressley and Louis Taylor on alto saxophones, though the intense "Coltrane Time" spotlights both Brecker and Pope). The infectious closer is the infectious "Muntu Chant," with a wailing tenor solo by James Carter. This band must have been a treat to see in person, but this well-mixed recording essentially gives the listener a front-row table. Highly recommended.

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