Various Artists

The Colossal Saxophone Session

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This double-CD (originally cut for King) has a remarkable lineup of saxophonists: altoists Frank Morgan, Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, John Zorn, Steve Coleman, Donald Harrison, and Craig Bailey, Dave Liebman on soprano, and tenors Archie Shepp, David Murray, Houston Person, and Bennie Wallace. In fact, there is so much talent present (with a fine rhythm section that includes pianist George Cables, either Rufus Reid or Santi DeBriano on bass, and producer Joe Chambers on drums) that it is not surprising that the results do not come close to living up to the tremendous potential. A problem is that 12 of the 20 performances feature just one saxophonist (everyone but Bailey is heard from in a quartet setting and Liebman has two showcases) which partly wastes the unique concept of the set; certainly Phil Woods and Houston Person offer nothing new on songs they have previously recorded ("Goodbye Mr. Evans" and "There Is No Greater Love"). In general the individual selections are reasonably rewarding, particularly those of Murray, Liebman, and Morgan. Of the collaborations, Konitz meets Zorn on one fairly respectful track, and Shepp gets to team up with Murray. In addition there are two numbers with three saxophonists, one with five, and three blues (including two versions of "Blues for JC") that have six. There is no big blowout with all dozen players, solo identification is not given, and the liner notes say little about the goals or ideas behind the ambitious undertaking. This music will look more unique in discographies than it actually sounds.

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