Libation for the Baritone Saxophone Nation

September 2, 2002

I caught the last set of the Bluiett Baritone Saxophone Nation's week at Iridium last night and thought it was excellent. What's not to enjoy about a sax quartet of all bari saxes? It's lowdown, dirty, funky jazz, the most primal expression of saxophone. The first time I saw this group (albeit with a slightly different lineup) at Regattabar in '98, it was in one of the loudest concerts I have ever seen (only recently surpassed by The Roots' ineptly engineered Avery Fisher Hall appearance.) For this run at Iridium, Hamiett Bluiett was again joined by James Carter and Patience Higgins. Howard Johnson, who plays tuba in addition to bari sax and bass clarinet, played in the place of Alex Harding. Backing the quartet on percussion and providing some solid rhythm was Lee Person on drum kit and Kahil El'Zabar on African drums.

This set opened with Bluiett's take on The Temptations "My Girl" that featured J.C. wailing some crazy solos using the whole range of the horn. While I knew that JC and Bluiett are both badasses, the second song opened my eyes to the fact tha Higgins is one, too. While he's got a less raucous tone than JC (who doesn't?) and Bluiett, he played one solo after which JC turned to him and said "that was sick," an apt description.

Ben Ratliff's review in the NY Times: Deep-Voiced Saxophones With a Variety of Styles

Posted by Andrew Raff at September 2, 2002 06:23 PM
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