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The New York Saxophone Quartet: Urbanology

In his liner notes for Urbanology, Phil Woods, who knows a thing or two about cordon bleu cooking, asks: “Who needs a rhythm section?” It’s certainly not the New York Saxophone Quartet. Indeed, whether marinating Monk or Strayhorn, the NYSQ serves up savory dishes that should please even the most demanding tastes.

Building on a legacy now 40 years old, this edition of the NYSQ- soprano saxophonist Dennis Anderson, altoist Ralph Olsen, tenorman Ken Hitchcock and bari-man Al Hunt-is an exemplar of the genre. With a thorough grounding in classical music, the ensemble blends possess the kind of ESPlike synergy that marked the best of Basie’s sonorous sax sections. In Bob Mintzer’s “Quartet #1 in Three Movements,” a wonderful addition to the repertory, everything gets nailed. And how nice to have music and players sensitive to the dramaturgy of dynamics. And, yes, these guys can solo. In contrast to most classical saxophonists, whose attempts at jazz are stiffer than a #5 Rico Royal, Anderson, Olsen, Hitchcock and Hunt soar.

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