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November 1997

Rick Margitza
Game of Chance
Challenge Records

Rick Margitza is a still young colossus who's annealed such diverse influences as John Coltrane, Michael Brecker and Warne Marsh into a strikingly original style. While his technique dazzles, it's his music's compositional maturity, its momentum and sense of direction that ultimately impress. Then, there's Margitza's sound. It has edge and a center. It also has lyric warmth. His playing is a perfect unification of the cerebral and sensual. Margitza is one of contemporary music's most important saxophonists.

What a band! Pianist Jeff Gardner, bassist Lars Danielsson and drummer John Vidacovich think and breathe as one. And, how they swing! The book by Margitza and Gardner is yet another asset. The result? Jazz at the cutting edge. In "August in Paris," we hear Margitza's angular line give way to impassioned arabesques that, while pushing the envelope, are also toe-tapping dynamos. On "13 Bar Blues," we sample the leader's searing soprano with its pinpoint precise and yet soulful attack. Regardless of horn, or tempo, this is music of audacity played with unerring execution. A landmark for Margitza, and for jazz circa 1997.

Originally published in November 1997
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