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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke


Gordon Brisker-Tenor Saxophone, Tim Hagans-Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Anthony-Bass, Billy Hart-Drums, Mike Nock-Piano.
Recorded September 2000 N.Y.C.
NAXOS JAZZ 86064-2


1. The Open Path
2. Here's Looking At You Kid
3. The Meaning Of The Blues
4. Farewell Princess
5. Impetus
6. My Son John
7. Wozzeck's Dilemma
8. Witness
9. You Go To My Head

Gordon Brisker is a veteran of Woody Herman's big band and since leaving that organisation in 1963 has written arrangements and played for such leaders as Louie Bellson, Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Clarke, Bobby Shew, Airto and Jack De Johnette. He has also performed with various Symphony Orchestras and written charts for such diverse vocalists as James Brown and Rosemary Clooney. This is his second small group recording for the Naxos label under his own name.

Whilst reference books describe Brisker's tenor playing as bop-orientated it has far more of the post-Coltrane influence to its sound and style in my opinion. There are elements of Joe Henderson and Wayne Shorter also audible in his performances. However, Brisker has developed a personal style and tone while still acknowledging the legacy owed to his predecessors and the cross-pollination of his contemporaries. His voice on the tenor is full yet refined and has a delicacy, when needed, and never seems forced in its production. The Henderson influence can be heard on the upper tones and in the legato lines of his solos, which often contain great and unexpected rhythmic variety played with consummate skill and audacity. His delivery is clean and lightly articulated with just a hint of a terminal vibrato.

The tunes, apart from "You Go To My Head" and " The Meaning Of The Blues" are all originals. "The Open Path" is credited to pianist Mike Nock.

The overall mood is that of a mid to late sixties Blue Note date. The delightful "Farewell Princess" could be an escapee from one of Wayne Shorter's albums from this time. "You Go To My Head" is given a gentle Latin treatment and then moves to a swing feel for the middle eight.

The supporting musicians are excellent and both Nock and Hagans contribute telling solos. The rhythm section functions in that wonderfully understated driving manner which seems to be a specialty of New York jazz session players.

I thoroughly enjoyed this disc and look forward with great anticipation to any future offerings from Gordon Brisker. I am sure that anyone who likes modern/mainstream jazz will be delighted with this record.

Dick Stafford

D.S. is a professional reed player and teacher living in Coventry.


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