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M41: The Orbit of Sirius

I’m of the opinion that jazz writers should be required to pull out their old Coltrane records on a regular basis, as a way of calibrating their critic-o-meter. Not for content, necessarily, but to get an idea of the kind of intensity that (in my idea of a perfect world) should be the norm. Few contemporary players put forth a 10th of Coltrane’s passion. Even fewer seem to understand the importance of his single-minded focus. Tenor saxophonist Andrew Lamb does.

M41 is Lamb, pianist Chris Parker and drummer Alvin Fielder. The trio plays a set of loosely constructed, free-blowing performances that nicely balance the intellectual and emotional. Lamb is a rough, unself-consious improviser–not overly nuanced, but possessed of a formidable technique and an inner spiritual drive that permeates his playing. Parker shows nice chops, big ears and good musical sense. Fielder shows why he’s one of the hardest-driving yet most sensitive modern percussionists. Together they display an unquestioned acceptance of the primacy of emotion in their art. It’s not A Love Supreme, but in terms of honesty and commitment, this is as close as you’ll come in 2005.

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