29th Street Saxophone Quartet

Pointilistic Groove

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The 29th Street Saxophone Quartet, a cooperative group that worked on and off into the mid-'90s before disbanding, made their debut recording in 1983 for Osmosis, a Dutch label. Although they had been working together since 1981 as a unit, they are still finding their way on this early effort, most of which was recorded live at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam. Each of the musicians wrote original pieces for these sessions. Alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, easily the most recognizable player due to his status as a prominent alumni of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, is also the quartet's most accessible composer at this point, contributing two strong originals. Fellow alto saxophonist Ed Jackson (who had previously worked with George Russell, Ran Blake, and Jaki Byard's Apollo Stompers) composed "Pointillistic Groove," an uneven work with a conversational exchange between the horns and a tedious laughing sax routine that fails to hold the listener's attention. Better is his stirring arrangement of "Anthropology." Baritone saxophonist Jim Hartog penned the somewhat eerie "Still," which makes great use of unison lines, as well as arranging the standard "Love for Sale." Even though this initial effort doesn't quite reach the heights of the group's later recordings, fans of the 29th Street Saxophone Quartet will likely want to track down this now hard to find LP.

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