Jacob Sacks

Region

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Twentysomething pianist Sacks, originally from Monroe, MI, played extensively in the Ann Arbor-Toledo corridor before moving to NYC. His debut CD spotlights six compositions featuring Michigan saxophonists Andrew Bishop and John Wojciechowski, both on soprano, with Bishop doubling on tenor and Wojo on alto. Bassist Tim Flood and drummer Danny Weiss round out the quintet. Their jazz is based solidly in the progressive mainstream, with avant and chamber flourishes, reflecting the challenged, bright, innately aware, wide-eyed persona of their leader. At first, Sacks' piano inventions (as on the opener "Milhouse") are almost childlike and naive, but as you continue to listen, he starts digging in and stretching as the piece develops. Bishop and Wojo are allowed ample room to push the envelope -- the former more improvisationally, the latter in a stone cold be-bop way, very similar to Steve Lacy and Steve Potts. Melodies waft and drift freely, then are brought back to dock. Sacks has a calming effect as on "Sunday Times" and the title track, but he can also be quite forceful and driving. Sacks turns melancholy and introspective on "Lonely" and "Region," selections where he is acting the front man. But the music is for the most part in-your-face. "Two" is a hard-boppin' delight, Wojo on soprano, while the head of "Euro-Trash" is orchestral, minimalistic and rivals the World Saxophone Quartet's vibrancy with an ostinato head that roars. Sacks as a player will be heard to greater detail in a later recording. This is his fledgling outpouring as a composer as he demonstrates serious depth, bite, wit and grandiose motifs that express joy and pain in the soul of a musical poet well beyond his years. A quite credible effort, and a very potent band, organized by one just getting his feet wet.

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