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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Open Door Samba




1. Open Door Samba

2. Pastor J

3. Water

4. Round the Block

5. Earth and Sky

6. Kyrie

7. Second Son

8. April Bossa

9. Yen and Yang

10. Pogi’s Plight

11. Waltz for Fern

12. Cactus Blues

Phil Chester - Soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax

Bob Quaranta – Piano

Ian Froman – drums

Leo Huppert – Bass (tracks 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 11)

Joe Fitzgerald – Bass (tracks 2, 5, 8-10, 12)

Katie Jacoby – Violin

Thomas Ulrich – Cello

Texas-raised saxophonist Phil Chester here presents a dozen very varied tracks accompanied by a conventional rhythm section plus violin and cello. The album title suggests some Latin-American music but I say “very varied” because the items range from straightforward jazz to a jazz waltz, tender ballads, jazz-fusion and two pieces of Latin-Americana (the title-track and April Bossa). Open Door Samba opens the album in cheery mood, with Phil Chester’s soprano sax curling around the melody and Ian Froman adding a touch of Latin to the beat.

I feared that this CD might contain religious messages, as Phil Chester has been involved in churches since his birth. But thankfully, apart from a piece called Kyrie, the music’s variety rejects any fears of preaching. Kyrie is a heartfelt piece in which Leo Huppert’s double bass gives the impression of striding along purposefully. The following Earth and Sky is a throbbing piece that uses the strings to create an undertow which pulls the music along (representing Earth or even sea?), until the tempo speeds up into a kaleidoscope of colours (depicting the sky?). Bob Quaranta’s piano solo is eloquent, and Ian Froman’s drumming is decidedly dynamic.

Phil Chester’s saxophones dominate this CD, but pianist Bob Quaranta also contributes plenty of valuable solo statements. Chester mainly stays with the soprano sax and his melodic approach is never less than expressive. It is good to hear a musician emphasising the melody – indeed, savouring it, as in Pastor J and Waltz for Fern. One of my favourite tracks is Round the Block, which has an uplifting jazz-rock rhythm and fine solos by Chester, Quaranta, Huppert and Froman. But in fact I like most of the tracks on this well-recorded album, because Phil Chester doesn’t stay in one groove but tries out all kinds of styles and moods.

Tony Augarde

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