Nicolas Simion

Luca's Dream

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Nicolas Simion is a post-bop saxophonist (mostly heard on this date on tenor although he also has a couple spots on soprano) whose occasionally unusual style is due to his immersion in East European folk music. Some of his originals on the trio set (most notably "Transylvanian Blue" and "Underground #1") utilize Eastern scales, and a few of the tunes on this CD show the influence of Béla Bartok. The three standards (Ornette Coleman's "Blues Connotation," Charles Mingus and Duke Ellington's "Sound of Love," and Thelonious Monk's "Bemsha Swing"), which were recorded in 1996, are a bit more conventional although the melody of "Bemsha Swing" (but not the solo sections) is taken in 15/4 time. Simion has a strong tone, excellent technique, and the ability to go outside now and then while still holding on to the themes of the pieces. Bassist Ed Schuller is a major asset, while drummers Patrice Héral and Victor Jones (on the three numbers from 1996) are fine in support. But the focus throughout is generally on the leader, who displays a likable combination of fire and restraint. Worth checking out.

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