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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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Early Americans






1. Song Patrol

2. Dangerous Times

3. Nearly (For Kenny Wheeler)

4. Hips And Sticks

5. Singing The Triangle

6. Other Eyes

7. Rhyme Or Rhythm

8. Mind Gray River

9. Cornets Of Paradise

10. Say More

11. Gateway To Progress

12. Big Bill

13. Somewhere

Jane Ira Bloom - Soprano saxophone

Mark Helias Bass (tracks 1, 2, 4-12)

Bobby Previte Drums (tracks 1, 2, 4-12)

The latest CD from that most accomplished of soprano saxophonists, Jane Ira Bloom, differs from her last disc, Sixteen Sunsets, released in 2013. On that occasion, out of fourteen titles, only six were her own compositions, the rest being standards. Here, with the sole exception of Leonard Bernstein's Somewhere, there are a dozen tracks written by Bloom. Bloom is no slouch in this area, having been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition in 2007. She is also, of course, Professor of Jazz and Contemporary Music at the New School University, New York. She is joined on this recording by two familiar collaborators, Mark Helias on bass and Bobby Previte on drums. Previte in particular has worked with Bloom from about 1994 onwards and has appeared on at least seven of her discs so there is a definite cohesion about this trio.

Three tracks stand out. Other Eyes offers a vibrant exhibition of bass-playing by Helias and an exquisite tone from Bloom. Mind Gray River, meanwhile, presents a master-class of intricate and inventive percussion by Previte and a deeply satisfying contribution from Helias. There can be no doubting Jane Ira Bloom's jazz credentials here as she conjures up the blues. Big Bill has an engaging theme which Bloom exploits fully with her fellow musicians offering sparkling support. Not far behind in quality are Song Patrol, Nearly, Hips And Sticks and Rhyme Or Rhythm. Song Patrol features Bloom's smooth and stylish playing, accompanied by the deep timbre of Helias' bass and the dextrous Previte on drums. Nearly is dedicated to the late Kenny Wheeler who both played and recorded with Bloom's groups in the late 1980s/early 1990s. It is brief but appealing and is a clear, bell-like solo from Bloom. Hips And Sticks is an up-tempo piece with Helias providing the bedrock for Previte's more overt percussion work and Bloom's lively swinging saxophone. On Rhyme Or Rhythm, drums and bass set a brisk pace from the onset and Bloom plays with urgency.

Elsewhere, Dangerous Times features a bowed bass and an oriental touch to the music, so much so that Bloom sounds like a snake charmer at times. Singing The Triangle flatters to deceive, inasmuch as a moody introduction from Bloom and some deft bass from Helias lead to something less satisfying. I'm not sure whether the title of Cornets Of Paradise is to do with a love of ice cream or refers to the musical instrument that say, Buddy Bolden or Bix Beiderbecke, played so well. Still, against the steady bass and expansive drums, Bloom gives a sprightly account of herself. Say More never quite gets going. Although I liked the Helias solo and Previte's playing on Gateway To Progress, overall I thought it was a meandering, though busy, piece of post-bop. The final track, Somewhere, is a solo by Bloom. Apart from a couple of flourishes, this is played almost straight. Lovely.

Bloom is always worth hearing and her fellow musicians do her proud. Bobby Previte, in particular, is consistently creative. Well done, everyone concerned.

James Poore

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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