Adam Lane

Four Beings

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The lengthy solos make this sound like an extended blowing session, except for a couple of things: first, leader and bassist Adam Lanes quirky, snake-like compositions and arrangements, which absorb a good chunk of jazz history, and second, the adventurous improvisations by each member of the quartet. It is difficult to think of a more impressive front line than that of trumpeter Paul Smoker and saxophonist John Tchicai, and both fulfill expectations. Smoker does it all with a disturbing gravelly tone and gurgling sputtering that reveal myriad influences, from Louis Armstrong to Don Cherry. Tchicai burst on the scene as part of the New York Art Quartet in the mid-'60s, but he then rarely recorded with the sort of sophisticated, forward-looking ensemble that is found here. This recording captures him in top form, in one of the most compatible settings for his mature yet challenging improvisations. Another plus is the work of veteran drummer and mini-icon Barry Altschul, who also makes good use of solo space. Ultimately, the recording bears the stamp of the modest, yet extremely talented Adam Lane, whose fine bass work and writing skills help make this as good as it is. His urbane arrangements display influences as diverse as Charles Mingus and Ornette Coleman, allowing the players to take off in a myriad of ways that continually surprise and challenge each other and the listener.

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