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Adam Kolker: True Tenor

Adam Kolker

Claims made in liner notes can’t always be taken straight to the bank. But Peter Watrous’ proposition in his notes to Adam Kolker’s new Sunnyside CD, Flag Day, is supported by the album’s contents. The former New York Times jazz critic writes that Kolker “may be the musician of his generation who suffers from the greatest imbalance between his large abilities and his reputation.”

Most tenor saxophonists play some version of density. Kolker is different. He is about minimalism and subtlety and oblique understatement. He possesses an unerring instinct for fresh melodic form, yet the allure of his gentle sound, the way his notes liquefy, renders his free concepts accessible. On Flag Day, he only glances off “Last Night When We Were Young” for five minutes, and when he lets the melody coalesce in the final 40 seconds, the poignancy is piercing.

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