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January/February 2004

Laurent Coq Quartet
Like a Tree in the City
Sunnyside

Pianist Laurent Coq's Like a Tree in the City features the willfully lyrical tenor saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh, the rarest of rare birds: a young tenor saxophonist with a distinctive concept, dependent not so much on his elders for inspiration as his own imagination. He's unafraid to play slow but well able to play fast. His tone is dark and brooding, shorn of vibrato yet very expressive. He's a bit raw perhaps, but Sabbagh sounds like the real deal.

Coq is a fine, aggressive yet sensitive player as well, possessed of an ambidextrous technique shown to especially good effect on "The Sweet Sounds of Summer," perhaps the most exciting track on an album chockfull of exciting tracks. The rhythm section of bassist Brandon Owens and drummer Damion Reid is flexible and oh so powerful. The tunes and performances are complex yet organic-involving, without calling attention to their cleverness. Like a Tree in the City is an excellent album and highly recommended.

Originally published in January/February 2004
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