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Tom Christensen: Paths

Tom Christensen’s group is an eclectic two woodwinds-bass-drums quartet. More often than not he plays tenor sax, and his most obvious stylistic ancestor is early Wayne Shorter, without the heavy downbeats, while his permutations of motives also recall the methods of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.

Some Christensen solos feature imaginative phrasing and sustained intrigue (“Just to Play,” “Nardis”), and “Just to Play” is an attractive, long-lined, Colemanish theme. But his solo in “You’re My Everything” is florid while others slip too quickly into double-time mazes of arpeggios. He applies his tenor style to his solos on the less expressive soprano sax and English horn, too. On alto and sopranino saxes, Charles Pillow takes a cool approach to John Coltrane-style phrases and intervals. A lot of feeling somehow got lost in the four decades after Coltrane and Shorter fathered these saxophone lineages.

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