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Lake/Tchicai/Osgood/Westergaard: Lake/Tchicai/Osgood/Westergaard

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After touring Denmark in 2003, Oliver Lake (alto), John Tchicai (tenor), Kresten Osgood (drums) and Jonas Westergaard (bass) were able to recreate the excitement of their live performances for this studio session. All four musicians brought compositions to the group, resulting in a sound that blended the saxophonists’ adventurous voices with a rhythm section that could swing hard and lift off the ground as the mood called for it.

Since his days on alto, Tchicai has always had a unique approach to rhythm, playing behind or around it (“Azurite”) or grooving in odd meters (“Loop for Susan”). His laidback tone is complemented on these tracks by Lake, who often comes out wailing. Both men are credited with “poetry” in addition to reeds, and like their music, they approach it with taste. Tchicai recites Danish semiotician Per Age Brandt somewhere underneath a free drone, and Lake chants poet Ajule Rutlin over some sanctified handclaps.

Osgood’s “Smiling Billy Higgins” closes the album, saluting both the late drummer and his one-time leader Ornette Coleman with a bright melody that dances over a pedal-point bass line. It’s my sincere hope that this group isn’t a once-in-a-blue-moon meeting.