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Rich Halley Quartet: Requiem For a Pit Viper

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A free rider from the Left Coast, tenor saxophonist-composer Rich Halley is a powerful player with one foot in the Coleman Hawkins-Don Byas camp and the other confidently striding into the edgier realms of such ferocious players as David S. Ware and, at his most intense, Peter Brötzmann or Albert Ayler. He joins similarly free-spirited trombonist Michael Vlatkovich on the frontline here, while Halley’s son Carson supplies a punk-jazz aesthetic on the drum kit and Clyde Reed pedals insistently and creatively underneath on bass.

Sparks fly on this open-ended renegade session. Highlights include Halley’s pulse-quickening solo on “Circumambulation,” his conversational duet with Vlatkovich on “Purple and Gray” and his pungent, Dewey Redman-ish playing on the slow blues “Maj.” There’s also a Sonny Rollins kind of uplift to his buoyant closer, “Afternoon in June.” In New York, he’d be a star on the avant-garde scene; but for now, you have to fly to Portland to see this tenor titan perform.

Originally Published