John Tchicai

Life Overflowing

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Recorded in 1998 in Europe, this pairing of two of the most lyrical saxophonists the avant-garde has ever spawned with a sympathetic piano, bass, and drums trio has resulted in one of the more astonishing records of the late postmodern jazz movement. Track one, Tchicai's soul/jazz/rock offering "Scholer's Fountain of Life," with its ringing synth notes by pianist Dave Bryant and Kohlhase's gorgeously romantic solo, is a look into a different venue of jazz concerns. In some ways it looks back to Weather Report's most profound moments, but only nods in the direction of Zawinul, Shorter, and Pastorius. Tchicai's interested in something else, a kind of street music, a dance music for children that can be emulated by adults. He articulates as much in his funky, lilting solo near the track's end. Likewise, the pair's reading of Magriet Naber's "His Tulips Were Soft as Berries" is a study in chromatic imagery and the inherent lyricism found in the blues, as both saxophonists take the front line in unison, carrying the melody well past the introductory statement into Bryant's solo. Kohlhase's "International Wingo Conspiracy" reflects the strident arpeggiated science he has labored to perfect over the past 20 years, with Tchicai splattering a gorgeous bouquet of color over the harmony and digging in to bring out the blues in the angular melody lines. With beautiful readings of Billy Strayhorn's "Blood Count," and more originals by the two frontmen -- as well as one by Bryant -- there's plenty here to satisfy even the most jaded jazz fan. There is a caveat, however: Fans of skronk-only jazz will be sorely disappointed by the joy, optimism, and free-flowing goodwill found here -- so don't bother, you'd just bring everybody down.

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