Charles Pillow

In This World

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Although he appears as a sideman on about 25 albums, this is only Charles Pillow's second album as a leader. Pillow has worked with jazz performers ranging from Rachel Z to Frank Sinatra, Jr., and his main occupation as a sideman has been with leaders in the contemporary jazz style such as Bob Belden. Like Mulgrew Miller and others on the jazz scene, Pillow is adept with several instruments and is not at all reluctant to use all of them. Here he works with the English horn (from the oboe family), the oboe itself, soprano saxophone, pennywhistle, and others. All but two tunes on the agenda are written by Pillow. The other two are from Leonard Bernstein's Mass. The more interesting one is In Nomine/De Profundis, which Pillow has transformed into a freewheeling, folk dance-oriented, sometimes dissonant, and sometimes rambling variation on the theme. Of his original material, it runs from the quiet chamber jazz of "Aria" to "Folk Song," one of the few lively paced tracks on the set, where the pennywhistle is brought into play as well as the wordless vocalizing of Bob Moses. But, for the most part, this is typical smooth or contemporary jazz. Seamless with few dynamics, streaming with little use of the pause-for-effect technique -- but on the whole quite soothing. It also shows that, while the double-reed oboe is useful in large jazz ensembles for its color and tone, it has too little flexibility to have a preeminent place as a jazz solo instrument. Pillow is joined on this album by a likeminded group. Mark Walker's hand drums provide offbeat rhythms on such cuts as "Cor Anglais," and Chuck Bergeron's modern bass playing has substantial presence throughout the session. For contemporary jazz and oboe aficionados.

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