Saxophonist, composer, and arranger Jean Pierre Zanella is a much sought-after artist on the Quebec music scene. On Mother Tree, the multi-talented Zanella is accompanied by longtime quartet members Michel Donato on acoustic bass, James Gelfand on piano, Paul Brochu on drums, and Alain Labrosse on percussion. Guests Daniel Zanella and Guy Thouin round out the ensemble's performance on nine stellar songs. Jean Pierre Zanella wrote five of the nine songs, and has referred to the title track as one that is symbolic of motherhood and all it represents. Opening with a standout soprano saxophone performance on "Minor Injuries," the group forges ahead into straight-ahead jazz territory. No hip-hop, no R&B; this is just great hard-blowing straight-ahead jazz with mesmerizing improvisations that keep your attention. One particularly interesting passage by Zanella on the opening track finds him experimenting with an entire range of saxophone registers -- all without losing control of the solo or the listener's interest. Also, this ensemble's interpretations of "How Insensitive" and "You Go to My Head" really draws the listener into Zanella's diversified sax colors and shadings, as well as their beautiful complements and punctuations. Zanella's solo on "How Insensitive" ranks right up there with some of the finest love ballad solos recorded. The joyous "The Last Parade of Minishtov" and the beautiful "Mother Tree" close this excellent set and make it more than memorable. Together, Zanella and company play with the sensitivity of poets in love and the energy of youths with a wide range of interests. Mother Tree should open new doors for Zanella, because of its far-reaching international appeal and very distinctive sound.
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AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein