Ralph Bowen

Soul Proprietor

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Tenor saxophonist Ralph Bowen doesn't lead his own sessions often, so it's nice to hear him step out again on Criss Cross with this straight-ahead quintet disc. Organist Sam Yahel and his trio mates, Peter Bernstein (guitar) and Brian Blade (drums), serve as the backbone of the group, with trumpeter John Swana joining Bowen up front on some of the tracks. Of the four covers, "Invitation" and "My Ideal" are fairly straightforward; Joe Henderson's "Inner Urge" sounds novel in an organ/guitar context and Horace Silver's ballad "Peace" closes the album as an unaccompanied tenor solo. Five tracks are Bowen originals, the strongest being "Meltdown" (a charged reworking of John Coltrane's "Countdown") and "Spikes" (with rhythm changes twisted beyond recognition). It's the incredible blowing, more than Bowen's writing, that makes Soul Proprietor worth hanging onto.

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