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Michael Brecker/Joe Lovano/David Liebman: Gathering of Spirits

This album is ridiculously good, even better than I expected, and my expectations were very high-as well they might be, given that these three follicle-challenged gents may just be the best tenor players in the world. I can’t remember the last time I heard an album featuring multiple saxophonists with such distinctive, individualized approaches-Charlie Parker, Johnny Hodges and Benny Carter on an early ’50s Norman Granz-produced session, perhaps?

The virtues of originality are on full display-Lovano’s wooly-toned, Cy Twombly-esque linearity; Brecker’s immaculately shaped melodies, moving in-and-out of time (and the changes) as naturally as breathing; Liebman’s stream-of-consciousness flurries delivered with incorrigible intensity. The interaction between the saxophonists is competitive only in the best sense, and the rhythm section (Cecil McBee, bass; Billy Hart, drums; Phil Markowitz, piano) is superb. The tunes are great, the execution strong and spirited.

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