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CD REVIEW - GREG ABATE
Wave Street Sessions: 2010
Greg Abate, alto/tenor saxes,
Bill Cunliffe, piano,
Ray Drummond, bass,
Akira Tana, drums.
Greg Abate was born of Italian descent in Massachusetts. He is a jazz saxophonist who is difficult to classify. Many years ago, in the 1980s, he was immersed in big band jazz with the re-formed Artie Shaw Orchestra. His time there spawned an urgent need to create his own music.
Gradually he emerged as both a soloist and a prolific composer. Several of the numbers on this CD, such as Wongs Way, For the Love of Life, and In the Stratosphere are his own creation.
Nonetheless, he remains a great fan of the great American songbook to which he was exposed within his big band experiences through Count Basie, Woody Herman and Buddy Rich.
His natural urge to develop musically led him to the offerings of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and others of the be-bop era, while always professing the melody as his priority in any jazz composition.
This album contains an eclectic mix of ballads, swing and be-bop - listen, for instance, to BeBop - and then to the sumptuous ballad, For the Love of Life. The styles could not be more contrasting but each are presented with the consummate skill of a highly accomplished, and experienced, musician.
He is equally at home with the standards - You and the Night and the Music is an excellent standard moulded into the architecture of the post-bop era yet clearly revealing its roots.
On this album, he is fortunate enough to be accompanied by a highly prestigious rhythm section within and between which there is an obvious affinity.
Bill Cunliffe has received countless accolades, including the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Award; Ray Drummond has made over 200 recordings with many leading jazz musicians, including Wynton Marsalis and the late Art Farmer; Akira Tana has his own trio and has recorded with such giants as Sonny Rollins, Jim Hall and Zoot Sims.
This is an album for all tastes, featuring a saxophonist who has developed a deservedly formidable reputation on both sides of the Atlantic. Greg Abate appears regularly in the Northamptonshire area and any opportunity to hear him play should not be missed.