After Ernie Krivda’s quartet devoted a considerable amount of time to “A Night in Tunisia” and “’Round Midnight” at the Detroit International Jazz Festival last September, two things became clear: In the right hands, those well-worn classics can still sound brand new; and Krivda possesses an endless flow of melodic ideas that makes everything he plays sound fresh and alive. Presented for evidence now is a consistent 70-minute set of solo tenor saxophonist pieces, which is not an easy program to pull off.
November Man doesn’t set out to present all aspects of the tenor’s sonic possibilities (ballad here, growling overtones and high shrieks there) nor does it digress into a series of technical exercises that only sound like tunes inside the performer’s head. The album features fully developed pieces that just happen to be played without the support of a band. Listening to Krivda as he sculpts long melodic phrases, stopping to trill along the way, it’s easy to imagine a rhythm section locking in with his precise lines. You have to wonder if he was imagining a mental rhythm section spurring him with its push and pull, or if he just felt highly inspired.
That doesn’t make this easy to absorb, and if the listener comes at November Man casually, it might seem to have a lack of dynamics. But this is a CIMP release, which comes with a mission statement that practically demands undivided attention for the music. Anyone ready to take the plunge knows how to approach this album, and hopefully many will be ready to get lost in Krivda’s power.