Charles McPherson

Live at the Cellar

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Charles McPherson is one of many alto saxophonists who was influenced by Charlie Parker, but he used this influence as a launching pad for developing his own style, no doubt seasoned by his work as a sideman with Charles Mingus and Barry Harris. These 2002 live sessions at the Cellar in Vancouver feature McPherson with a local house rhythm section playing extended workouts of standards, jazz works, and his own compositions. McPherson's powerful sax pierces through any buzz in the audience, commanding rapt attention, while pianist Ross Taggart and bassist Jodi Proznick also shine during their solos. McPherson's emotional reading of Irving Berlin's "How Deep Is the Ocean?" makes good use of vibrato and repeated notes, while Taggart's unusual backing in the introduction to "Star Eyes" ignites the saxophonist to deliver a searing rendition. The rhythm section, which includes drummer Blaine Wikjord, seems very comfortable with both of McPherson's originals, "Manhattan Nocturne" (played as a midtempo bossa nova) and the more free-spirited "Illusions in Blue" (in which the quartet wails).