As much fun and occasional annoyance playing musical prospector is with new releases by sifting through the sand and silt of glad tidings brought to me courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service, going back to check out established releases that may have slipped past us is at times far more rewarding!
Take the case of this dynamic young tenor player by the name of Sean Lyons. Equipped with a tone that sounds as though he made a deal with devil, lyrical phrasing that reminds one of that musical happy place between Stan Getz and Dexter Gordon and guests that include Jim Rontondi, Conrad Herwig and Tom Harrell and Roar Of Lions may well have been one of the best if not most over looked releases for 2009.
Opening up with "Herk From The South End" there is a vibrant syncopated semi-bossa infused swing that takes groove to another level. Bassist John Webber and legendary drummer Al Foster ride the groove for all it is worth while Lyons conducts his own sonic exploratory showcasing his marvelous if not total command of his tenor. As a debut release this scores high marks straight across the board for every conceivable category from artistic merit to technical precision while never sounding over rehearsed or borderline self indulgent. "Soultrane" is a gorgeous ballad by Tadd Dameron allowing Lyons to stretch out a tad and showoff a lyrical direction that players 20 years his senior still struggle with. A favorite would have to be the classic Dizzy Gillespie tune "Woody 'N You" where he is paired with the legendary Tom Harrell and the end result is twin sons of different mothers. A sound reminiscent of the classic Blue Note and Impulse days when men were men and producers never used programming to aid the rhythmically challenged. A killer tune that is alone worth the price of the cd.
As a tenor player myself I tend to listen to tenor players a tad closer than most musicians and if you are looking for chinks in Lyons armor then good luck. As technically proficient and artistically gifted as they come. What ECM is to the piano trio, Posi-Tone is to a tenor player. A sonic joyride where swing is still king and odd meter does not have to mean self indulgent. An absolute winner!
Tracks: Herk From The South End; Bonnie Rose; Nostalgia; Soultrane; Blackbelt Bebop; Woody 'N You; Ask Me Now; Poinciana; Realized Dream.
Personnel: Sean Lyons: tenor saxophone; Al Foster: drums; David Hazeltine: piano; John Webber: bass.
Special Guests: Jim Rontondi: trumpet, flugelhorn; Conrad Herwig: trombone; Tom Harrell: trumpet, flugelhorn
A taste of Sean Lyons from earlier this year.