The primary attribute that distinguishes Arthur Blythe’s Focus is its sound. First there’s Blythe’s unique alto tone. Room filling and reedy (you can almost hear the individual vibrations) and ornamented by a quick, rhythmic vibrato, Blythe’s muscular sound identifies him immediately. Then there’s the quartet’s unusual instrumentation: tuba in place of string bass and marimba instead of piano. This special combination of sonic properties sets the recording apart from many others offering a similar stylistic approach. For aside from the extra latitude Bob Stewart’s tuba affords him in generating imaginative bass lines, the playing is essentially mainstream and straightahead.
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