Anton Schwartz

The Slow Lane

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A young tenor saxophonist/composer/bandleader from the San Francisco area, Schwartz offers a little bit of everything stylistically within the modern jazz arena on this, his second CD. He reinvents standards, plays some originals, goes into effortless blues or ballads, and fronts a very capable band, especially pianist Paul Nagel. Bassist John Shifflett and drummer Jason Lewis also play their parts well, but the spotlight is Schwartz's, who is not a distinctive stylist, but borrows from the best tenor plates of Hawkins, Rollins, Gordon, Coltrane, and Brecker to present a fluent, literate, pleasant sound, a musical voice in development. Liner note writer Becca Pulliam of NPR likens his stance to that of a young Stanley Turrentine. Schwartz proves to be quite a melodicist on his cool samba "The Curve of the Earth" and its no-time 1:12 tag/reprise. He has command of many tuneful devices; the hip, cool, modal funk of "Don't Ask," the soul ballad reply "Then Again," the slow, desert-caravan procession of "Peace Dollar," and the patient title track gospel-blues in 3/4 time. Reworked standards include a tick-tock, cha cha-flavored take on Benny Golson's "Along Came Betty" and subdued soul-funk take of "Come Rain or Come Shine," Nagel's piano particularly bluesy in its chordal repetition a la Horace Silver. Relatively straight are the reflective, relaxed tone of Billy Strayhorn's classic ballad "Chelsea Bridge," and the torchy-to-pepped-up-and-back line of "Born to Be Blue." Schwartz also interprets Wayne Shorter's "Miyako," admittedly an inspirational starting point for the tenor man years ago, and a piece he has played frequently. An easygoing to more uptempo 6/8 leads to some stimulating tenor sounds even the composer would have to take notice of, for he does not play like this anymore, which is a shame. Thank goodness Schwartz remembers. This is a recording loaded with promise for a budding talent who is on the right path to bringing us some gems of thought in the years ahead.

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