02/22/11

Albums

The success of Jane Ira Bloom as a musician comes through her instrumental voice, which the soprano sax player uses eloquently in Wingwalker. She has surrounded herself with a strong group of colleagues as well: Dawn Clement on piano and Fender Rhodes, Mark Helias on bass and Bobby Previte on drums.

Bloom composed all but one piece on the record. More conservative than not, her music, and the way she plays it, is elegantly melodic, lyrical, rhythmic, without any odd or out of character turns.

The quartet’s continuity is a crucial ingredient for Wingwalker. Bloom often begins her compositions; but, regardless of who leads, she serenades her players through swinging, joyful valleys to escort them to extraordinary peaks on her instrument. Then, she might continue to play or release her three band mates to do what they do best and later reincorporate herself into the flow at the right moment. The question of where will Bloom go next? introduces each stage of the journey that this music unfolds.

The design of both the recording and the compositions within leans towards the alternation of relaxed tempos with upbeat ones. Sometimes acting as the sax’s alter ego, the piano provides a solid, predominantly mid-range backdrop for Bloom’s horn. When pianist Clement comes forward, it is with as much sweetness and buoyancy as Bloom projects. Bassist Helias and drummer Previte are inseparable in their time-keeping bond, yet also are responsible for stabilizing the landscape on which the sax, and the piano, can travel. With the bass announcing the theme and bongos transitioning to the body of the piece, “Freud’s Convertible” exhibits Bloom’s talent for altering mood with tempo. Closing the recording with a solo version of Lerner and Loewe’s “I Could Have Danced All Night,” she speaks volumes about her genuinely romantic nature.

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