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Jon Hazilla and Saxabone: Form & Function

Drummer Hazilla has once again come up with a tasty concept and thematic set that prominently-but never overbearingly-features his droll, understated, no-nonsense trap settings. This time he pits kit against three saxes and trombone. Saxabone is all colleagues at Berklee College: altoist Jim Odgren, tenor man Greg Badolato, bari guy Tim Mayer, trombonist John Pierce. That’s it: neither bass nor chordal instrument obtrude on their elemental encounters of horn and skin. That the Berklee instructor reveres Max Roach may clearly be heard in the brisk, clean solo gambits that open, end, and pepper their way not quite symmetrically through the date. These solos are brief performances-none except “10 Little Indians,” dedicated to Roach, exceeding four minutes-not study exercises. His “Self Portrait” is a candid turn with smooth hard mallets bouncing off dry hi-hat counter-rhythms.

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