Robert Stewart

Beautiful Love

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A fixture in Los Angeles, tenor saxophonist Robert Stewart's recordings (particularly for Qwest) have mostly received good reviews. This lesser-known set from Oct. 10, 1994, not released until 1998 by the Italian Red label, finds Stewart performing seven jazz standards (including two versions of "Speak Low") in a quartet with pianist Eric Tillman, bassist Jeff Littleton and drummer Brett Sanders. What sets Stewart apart from other young saxophonists is his willingness to play relaxed solos, particularly on ballads where he lets individual notes breathe and sing. Although he can play double time runs with the best of them, as he demonstrates in some spots, Stewart is at heart a lyrical and melodic improviser. His interpretations of such tunes as "Everything Happens to Me," "Body and Soul" and a lengthy "Canadian Sunset" are quite thoughtful, yet have an intensity just beneath their surfaces. The tenorman is heard throughout this easily recommended straight-ahead session in fine form.

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