Way of the Saxophone
Way of the Saxophone
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Riffs are kicky and solid, the solos frantic and thoughtful, the ensemble energetic and tight. The Brooklyn Sax Quartet, co-founded by tenorist David Bindman and baritonist Fred Ho, and joined by Sam Furnace and Chris Jonas, is a boldly colorful, radical saxophone quartet, performing original works and arrangements which span the breadth of new music and harmonically rooted blues-based traditions. The music is funky, tough, raw, intelligent, cross-cultural, beautiful and passionate, a celebration of tradition, improvisation and innovation.
Many of the ensemble's compositions are expansive narrative suites which bring out the very different voices of the improvising members. It is precisely these differences that create tension and balance; yet the ensemble members are able to become one, to stop on a dime, to find danceable grooves which metamorphose into entire movements. The sonic variety and extended techniques of the saxophone, including slap-tonguing and multiphonics, add to the colorfulness, while rich harmonies and layers of cross-rhythms cause the quartet to sound at times like an entire big band, and at others like a group of drummers. The rhythmic complexities both written into compositions and discovered spontaneously are the undercurrent and fabric for improvisations which go off in many directions, with each performance being a surprising and new creation. Brooklyn, with its teeming urban crossroads, is the musical, physical and spiritual home for the quartet's performer-composers.
NEW YORK TIMES
"An experimental ethos dominates ...a powerful and worldly ensemble."
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"The vibrancy and emotion of the Brooklyn Sax Quartet underscores its social conscience. This inventive group puts together a program that embraces multiculturalism and acknowledges the struggle against injustice without proselytizing."
"[I]t's a treat to hear ... At some point they break into pairs for contrast, at others allowing a lone voice rise above the group action."
"For fans of the saxophone, it just doesn't get any better than a saxophone quartet. And when it comes to that already rare configuration, nobody straddles both the jazz tradition and world music influences as the Brooklyn Saxophone Quartet does."
"This is a sax quartet to be reckoned with ... The sum total from this varied set is an undiminishing musicality. It should be heard by any serious devotee of the saxophone ensemble and advanced improvised music."
—Grego Applegate Edwards
MIDWEST RECORD RECAP
"In much the way the World Sax Quartet blew the wax out of people's ears, BSQ is picking up where they left off and adding a multi-culti spin to the proceedings. Wild and wooly without a lot of the excess that turns people off of free/new jazz, these players are concerned about the sound as a whole whether laying out or blasting a joyful noise. The mainstream of tomorrow is fomenting here."
"You won't even miss the bass and drums as these four horns bob and weave and play with the abandon of children - albeit very smart, well-trained children. Whether they're rendering their own songs or songs by Dizzy Gillespie and Billy Strayhorn, the musicians get deep inside the compositions and blow their way out with melody, harmony, and rhythm."
JAZZ IMPROV MAGAZINE
"Close your eyes and you will envision the orient, forgetting the fact that it is actually four saxophones from Brooklyn! This compact, direct and passionate playing portrays a keen cultural affinity to which we all hope to achieve."
DOWNTOWN MUSIC GALLERY
"What I dig the most about this quartet is that they have heart, that breathes life into whatever they do. Amen."
ALL MUSIC GUIDE
"This quartet joins the World Saxophone Quartet and the Rova Saxophone Quartet as among the most innovative saxophone groups."
"Eschewing the global honorific of an obvious influence, The Brooklyn Sax Quartet still manifests a sound of worldly proportions. Individual pieces prove just as creatively potent as the four players negotiating them and incorporate everything from Ghanaian talking drum rhythms to R&B, Funk, Brazilian and Free Jazz elements (all deftly channeled through saxophones). The wealth of improvisatory ideas that are continuously plugged into the shifting ensemble relationships make for some gratifying listening and the differing sonorities of the saxes are exploited to galvanizing effect."
"The Brooklyn Sax Quartet's compositions and arrangements fully feature the instruments' rich timbres ... the aggregation is also gifted at weaving rich rhythmic and melodic passages throughout. It's difficult not to think of Weather Report's maxim -- "We always solo and we never solo" -- when listening to The Way of the Saxophone's six tracks, for like the stitch work of a master tailor, the lines of improv and composition are wonderfully blurred."
"On both the originals and radically reworked standards, the saxophonists effectively integrate melodic, swing-based playing with dissonant, free jazz blowing ... Ultimately, the Brooklyn Sax Quartet succeeds in pulling together disparate elements -- harmonious tones with atonality and through-composed form with unfettered improvising -- because of the strong rapport between the players."
ALL MUSIC GUIDE
"[I]nventive and joyful, exploratory yet effortless."
"Here's the debut disc [The Way of the Saxophone] of four guys doing what they like to do best ... This quartet is ages away from others who specialize in that odd genre of museum-lobby quality, thin-lipped and somewhat repressed 20th century French saxophone quartets."
—Grant Chu Covell
"Driven by the pens of Fred Ho and David Bindman, these guys blend the legacies of the WSQ and Rova. They're precise, energetic, fanciful and down with entertainment enough to put a prog spin on 'Jitterbug Waltz.'"
"Comparisons will be made to the World Saxophone Quartet - but these will fall short, as comparisons often do. This group is more muscular, less mannered and, if possible, more eclectic ... Bindman slowly drifts into 'Jitterbug Waltz.' Fred sets the pace, the high horns lay the chords, and Jonas goes skating. We didn't expect such delicacy, but then again we didn't expect any of this. This group is strong, and they will be listened to."
"[T]he Quartet offers butter-rich tones and a penchant for polyrhythms that suggest a compositional ethic stewed over years of practice, steeped in the sounds of the Brooklyn streets ... The Brooklyn Sax Quartet creates music you don't need to understand to sit and sway in its rapturous hold."
"It's nice to know the sweet beast we call music is in such good hands, as sweet and beastly as ever."