Mark Fechner

Wing It

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In the 1980s and '90s, Delmark and Southport were two Chicago-based labels you could turn to when you wanted to check out obscure jazzmen from the Windy City. One of the many Chicagoans Southport documented in 1998 was Mark Fechner, whose Wing It was his first album for Southport and his third overall. A competent (if conventional and fairly predictable) hard bop date, Wing It finds the tenor and alto saxophonist leading his pianoless working quartet, the Mark Fechner Ensemble, which also includes guitarist Pat Keiner, bassist Jeff Hansel, and drummer Bret Sher. Many of the songs Fechner chooses have been recorded numerous times over the years -- Duke Jordan's "Jordu," Chick Corea's "Spain," Miles Davis' "Seven Steps to Heaven" and Duke Ellington's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" can hardly be called neglected -- although he also makes some less obvious choices here and there. Corea's "La Fiesta," Horace Silver's "May-Reh," and McCoy Tyner's "Island Birdie" aren't among the artists' more famous compositions. The most risk-taking part of the CD comes when Fechner's group gives Duke Ellington's "Caravan" an unusually funky soul-jazz makeover. For the most part, however, Wing It can be described as an album that is competently executed but not very surprising.

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