Moscow Sax Quintet

Jazznost Tour

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Call this group Supersax East, a quintet of Russian jazz saxophonists who wowed the 1990 International Association of Jazz Educators convention in New Orleans and were recorded at Northeastern Illnois University in Chicago on the last stop of their U.S. visit. Seven years later, the concert finally came out on the fledgling Arkadia label, and it proves that this Slavic sax section has vigor, fire and enough technique to pull off their demanding charts in brilliant style before a live audience. The concept, selection of tunes, and dense harmonies of bop tracks like "Four Brothers," "Yardbird Suite," and "Donna Lee" are right out of the Supersax playbook, except that there is no solo trumpet foil to offset the wild, massive flights of reeds. They are also capable of lovely a cappella work on "Smashing Thirds" and "Waltz for Debby," introducing clarinets and flute into the mixture, and doing a circus-y slapstick turn on Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance" at the requisite breakneck speed. While this sort of thing has been done before, the Moscow Sax Quintet plays with a panache and excitement that makes it seem fresh again.

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