Tom DeSteno

Ready for Action

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Bob Magnuson and Tom DeSteno have recorded regularly for the CIMP label, and each release has successfully explored a different aspect of their playing. Here, they are joined by the remarkable acoustic bassist Dominic Duval and the intense saxophonist William Gagliardi for a power session that at its best pulverizes with unmitigated energy. From the opening "She's Gone," it is clear that this is going to be a wild, frenzied set of extemporaneous improvisation that reaches skyward. Yet it is not all pure excitement, as the quieter moments (for example, on the gripping "Ships") reveal a deep emotional presence exemplified by some fluid, liquid-toned sax playing. Two saxes, bass, and drums is a risky combination to begin with: The absence of a piano and the presence of two of the same type of horns could potentially lead to tedium in the wrong hands. Producer Bob Rusch's selection of William Gagliardi works splendidly, as the horns complement each other perfectly. While there are moments when the sound gets muddied, for the most part this all-star quartet delivers forcefully and effusively with the sort of fierceness that admirers of all four performers have come to expect. A good part of the credit, too, belongs to the excellent compositions by Magnuson and Gagliardi, which help to make this much more than a free-wheeling blowing session.

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