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World Saxophone Quartet: Experience

The World Saxophone Quartet has devoted whole albums to Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and their late founding member, Julius Hemphill. For their newest release, the group-which now includes Bruce Williams on alto and curved soprano in the slot once occupied by Hemphill, Arthur Blythe and John Purcell-has explored the songbook of a seemingly unusual source: Jimi Hendrix. Considering the guitarist’s connection to classic rock, a Hendrix tribute could be construed as an attempt at instant credibility. But naturally the WSQ approaches the material with their usual reverence and sense of adventure.

Half of the album includes the rhythm section of drummer Gene Lake (son of WSQ alto and soprano saxman Oliver Lake) and bassist Matthew Garrison (son of the late Jimmy Garrison). Their presence adds extra kick to “If 6 Was 9,” which begins in a funky mood before veering off into a wild group improvisation over a boppish bass line. Violinist Billy Bang joins the full band on “Machine Gun,” practically coming out of nowhere and adding an appropriately feverish solo.

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