Hamiet Bluiett

Walkin' & Talkin'

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Hamiet Bluiett is the widely regarded baritone saxophonist in the World Saxophone Quartet and the Oliver Lake Quartet. This set, recorded live in Basel in 1991, is Bluiett's second solo date on record (the first being 1978's Birthright): solo meaning no rhythm section, no other horns, no piano, nothing. This album is just the man and his horns playing his highly individual compositions -- and improvising upon them -- for nearly an hour. His compositions are revealing too, such as the gorgeous nursery rhyme-like themes in "Daddy Banks/Doll Baby," where the blues meets Monk's melodic simplicity and Braxton's tonal inventions in the body of the horn. Then there's the intricate cyclic patterns in "A View From My Mind's Eye," which moves dance-like through a woolly series of intervallic staccato phrases that place the ninths in distinct opposition to one another before moving into a hypnotic, trance-y groove. The fave, though, is "Ballad for My People/Foot Stompin' Blues," which is played on alto clarinet. Here, he evokes the princes and kings of the past such as Monk and Mingus as well as the present king, Ornette, in a series of harmonic inventions on blues cadence, rhythm, and phrasing that starts slowly as in a church moan, and eventually burns through the mix, turning everything upside down in fourths and sevenths. If you buy one solo saxophone record this year, make it Bluiett's; it holds within its grooves the entire history of the development of the instrument for the scholarly listener, and moves, shimmies, shakes, and wobbles to shake the ass of even the most eggheaded jazz fan.

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