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CD Review: Greg Fishman "So You Say"

By Hrayr Attarian

Greg Fishman: Tenor saxophone

Doug Webb: Tenor saxophone

Mitch Foreman: Piano

Kevin Axt: Bass

Dan Schnelle: Drums

On the exciting and delightful So You Say Chicago multi-reed player, educator and author Greg Fishman leads a quintet that includes Los Angeles saxophonist Doug Webb. Recorded in Pasadena in April of 2016 the album draws inspiration from classic two-tenor dates, nevertheless, both saxophonists’ deeply personal touch and their individual styles endow the recording with a definite modern flair.

The undulating title track is the perfect example of Fishman and Webb’s contrasting and complementary sound. After they state the main theme in unison over the rumbling rhythmic vamps Fishman and Webb take turn embellishing the melody with suave intelligence. The former’s yearning muscular phrases mirror the latter’s soulful simmering ones. Pianist Mitch Forman improvises with elegance, facility and bluesy hints keeping with the tune’s overall structure.

Forman also demonstrates stimulating virtuosity on such pieces as Webb’s crystalline “Lunar”. His meandering phrases add a darkly hued intrigue and vibrancy to this kaleidoscopic composition. The two saxophonists alternate wistful contemplative refrains before they punctuate drummer Dan Schnelle’s rumbling polyrhythms.

Schnelle maintains a sashaying beat on Fishman’s tender “Nikki's Waltz”. Sandwiched between the tenors’ passionate and eloquent extemporizations is bassist Kevin Axt’s lyrical and expressive spontaneous performance. Fishman blows buoyant and acerbic lines while Webb adds a cool vibrato to his solo.

With this engaging release the two saxophonists have crafted ten diverse, bop-based originals that cover a wide spectrum of moods. These range from Webb’s infectious and effervescent “254 West 82nd", for instance, to Fishman’s warmly intimate “Harlem Avenue”.

The resulting music is simultaneously accessible and refreshingly inventive.

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