Andrew Lamb

Pilgrimage

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Surprisingly, this is only Andrew Lamb's second recording as a leader, his first and stylistically more straight-ahead debut having been recorded in 1994 for Delmark Records. Those who have followed Lamb's career appreciate his ability to perform equally well in different genres. The marvelous trio he leads here finds his big, burly tone fronting the unlikely combination of tuba and drums in a mostly free-style romp that nonetheless incorporates a surprisingly broad palette. The saxophonist's swashbuckling voice reveals aspects of some of the older tenor giants such as Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins, but Lamb immerses his hardboiled playing in a more open framework. The best moments are when the rhythm duo spurs him on, as with the opening number, "Ludicrous Ridiculous." Sometimes, the tuba (or bass) and drums seem slightly muddy in the mix, perhaps a result of playing without a piano, and when Lamb drops out, everything becomes more subdued. Lamb acquits himself well as a composer, with attractive, original themes. The titles of tunes such as "Circus Avenue" and "The Adventures of a Trained Brush" attest to his sense of humor and breadth of background, while the illusions to religious themes (for example, "The Pilgrimage" and "Harvest of Sorts") express a deeply felt spiritual yearning. Lamb's detailed liner notes describe a serious musician seeking to uplift his soul through art, and, like John Coltrane and his progeny, Lamb's vehicle is the psalm-like expression of his tenor saxophone. That the results reflect his quest testify to his musical abilities, enormous potential, and depth of character.

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