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December 2000

Saturnalia String Trio/Daniel Carter
Meditations on Unity
Sublingual Records

Projects that attempt to fuse the European and American classical aesthetic (remember third stream?) are best served not when one element dominates the other, but when the aural integration is balanced. It also helps when the player or players essay their written and/or improvised parts with passion.

Passion and aural integration are in abundance on Meditations on Unity, which is a riveting, often moving, listen. Daniel Carter's saxophone, flute, clarinet and, on five of Meditations' 12 tracks, trumpet, weave in and out of the trio's bristling thicket of sound like shadows. His playing is especially compelling on the now-restless, now-pensive "Release," wherein the violinist Jonathan LaMaster, cellist Vic Rawlings and bassist Mike Bullock alternately pray and moan in and around Carter's lines. The quartet is equally moving throughout "Spontaneous Contagion."

Though Meditations is, sadly, not standard fare on the stilted confines of jazz radio, it should be. The invention, tonal color and, yes, swing, heard on this collection could warm more hearts than a thousand bonfires.

Originally published in December 2000
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