Gary Bartz

Blues Chronicles: Tales of Life

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    8
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A decent, sometimes quite excellent, album of (mostly) Bartz tunes. The record suffers only from the saxophonist's occasionally too-pronounced debt to John Coltrane, especially in the sustained modal passages, yet Bartz is nonetheless an exciting and expressive player. His compositions are varied and imaginative, and his rhythm section is fabulous; pianist George Colligan is an in-the-pocket blues player of the first magnitude, and drummer Greg Bandy is swinging, exciting, and tasteful. Bassist James King is a fine supporting player, and trumpeter Tom Williams -- despite owing more than a little to Bartz' most prominent former employer -- fills out the ensemble passages nicely. Although there's plenty here that's overly-familiar, the obvious commitment of the artists effectively mitigates the sporadic cliché.

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