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Colin Stetson: The Man-Machine

An orchestra unto himself

Colin Stetson in performance at the 2012 Guelph Jazz Festival

When Colin Stetson plays the saxophone, he’s hawking faith in super-human powers. He wants you to marvel at his individual athletic achievement, sure, but only after you’ve forgotten-at least for a moment, while you hung inside the sound-that it was the work of just one man and his acoustic instrument.

The 38-year-old saxophonist has just released New History Warfare, Vol. 3: To See More Light (Constellation), the last of three albums of mostly unaccompanied, single-take performances. On them he plays alto, tenor and bass saxophones, employing the mystifying technique of circular breathing almost without abatement. And there’s a concept: Each of the records represents a different stage in the evolution of life and consciousness, from birth to death.

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