James Finn

Opening the Gates

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One thing you can say for sure: tenor saxophonist James Finn has good taste when it comes to musicians. Backed by the exemplary power duo of bassist Dominic Duval and drummer Whit Dickey, Finn spins a wondrous tale of adventure, focused and direct. Opening the Gates was recorded at two sessions in his home a couple months apart, and Finn explains in the liner notes that there were no rehearsals and every track was a first take, except "Spinning Pyramids Propelled," which was a second take. There is a consistently forward-directed thrust to every piece, as the saxophonist muscles himself with unrelenting forcefulness. Finn is not just a powerhouse, though. He is a commanding presence who can tone down the intensity, adding welcome variety on each selection. It is not easy for a saxophone trio to sustain interest for a full-length recording, and that Finn is able to do so is a credit to his creative spirit. On "Opening the Gates," he impressively pours forth arpeggios à la Coltrane, altering them slightly and leading to an energetic, frenetic finale. He honks and screams, too, on "Transmissions Spheric" with unmitigated intensity. Even at lowered volume, though, as on "Truth Exiled into Paradise," Finn glides up and down effortlessly with telling control. Duval and Dickey are superb in support, spurning the spotlight and spurring the saxophonist to greater heights. With this solid and convincing release, James Finn enters the realm of a small circle of free improvisational virtuosos who blow with passionate fervor and considered perspicacity.

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