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September 2006

David Sills
Down the Line
Origin Records

Tenorist David Sills, despite being in his mid-30s, could pass for a Lester Young disciple of the late 1940s or 1950s. Not that he sounds like any one Young follower in particular, as he possesses a personal tone and constructs his solos in a distinctive manner. His thoughtful improvisations catch the ear with unexpected phrasing that swings comfortably along. Sills shares the frontline with altoist Gary Foster, another saxophonist whose pure, smooth tone is derived from Young via Lee Konitz. Foster is a brilliant improviser who eschews trite and banal phrasing. They are joined by the excellent West Coast rhythm section of pianist Alan Broadbent, bassist Putter Smith and drummer Tim Pleasant, along with guitarist Larry Koonse, who pulls double duty as a superb upfront soloist.

Their program consists of a few standards (by Sam Rivers, Milt Jackson and Antonio Carlos Jobim, among others) and band members’ originals, including five by Sills himself. They range from “Down the Line”—Sills’ dancing line over “Rhythm” changes—to the gorgeous Livingston and Evans ballad “Never Let Me Go,” with lots of stylistic variety in between.

Originally published in September 2006
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