Harry Sokal

Roots Ahead

PAO Records

Harry Sokal, tenor and soprano saxophones; Georg Breinschmid, double bass; Mario Gonzi, drums

Harry and Co. take us for a hip walk down memory lane on the opening track. "Be My Love" was a great hit for operetta star Mario Lanza (I hate to admit remembering back that far). Nevertheless, Sokal, Breinschmid and Gonzi prove their ability to transform even the most unlikely material into great Jazz.

All three men are Vienna Art Orchestra expatriates. Gonzi and Sokal also spent 20 years with Art Farmer, and Georg Braveheart Breinschmid earns his middle name because he walked away from a permanent contract and ongoing gigs with the Vienna Philharmonic to play Jazz. Their loss and our gain.

Let's get the gushing over with this is a wonderful CD. One reads that visiting American stars always ask "How's Harry doing?" Well, Harry is doing okay, and it is inconceivable that such a good trio as his is not gigging permanently all over. Sokal tells me that "...you don't get around Coltrane," and there are three of the great man's works here. Sokal takes a headlong dives into the up-tempo numbers with a seemingly ferocious determination to wrest the last inventive possibility from the melody line. This is where Breinschmid and Gonzi lend support with a relentless any-place-you-can-go, we can go, too. The result is sheer exhilaration. Gonzi displays his talent on, logically, Coltranets "The Drum Thing," by creating a tom-tom-like backdrop to Sokal's meandering tenor. Then Breinschmid shows his worth on the not so dissimilar "The Wise One," fully enhancing Sokal's pertinent rendition. Following a soprano flight on Fritz Pauer's "Santanats Flight," it is standard time and "What Am I Here For?" Breinschmid and Sokal flirt engagingly on this lovely old tune, and Gonzi lays back with just the right accents. The CD ends with a Sokal original of intriguing tempo changes and quite the most swinging way to leave fans wanting more.

Thus, if you now feel it is time to broaden your Jazz horizons, get this CD and be pleased to be one of the first to know about Sokal and Co. Check out the man on www.harrysokal.co.at or contact yours truly through Jazz Now Interactive for more information.                                                                          

by Lawrence Brazier

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