Sean Craig


Ora Records, Canada -CD

In the July Jazz Now I reviewed a young Francophone Canadian quartet with some significantly wide-ranging ideas called [IKS]. And favorably, at that. Here's their saxophonist Sean Craig, leading a fivesome of two bassists (Zack Lober and Sage Reynolds), a guitarist (Ken Bibace) and drummer Greg Ritchie; they exhibit a more "In The Tradition" side of Craig's oeuvre in comparison. The tenor player on his own has a softer, rounder tone reminiscent of late '50s/early '60s Coltrane ("After Thought" dances attendance on Trane's own "Dear Lord" and the ancient text "My Old Flame" - can't fault his taste); he does have one of 'Trane's midperiod faults as well in that, in a cleverly rescored "Nature Boy," Craig goes 'upper register' but seems not certain what to do once he's there. If you've heard "Out of This World" from the COLTRANE album on Impulse! Records, you'll recall 'Trane ascending in the second solo (I think) and getting stuck in a high repeating figure; the method he chose to get out of it was simply to come back down again. Not the most imaginative way of doing things in either case. But throughout the rest of "Nature Boy" there's an almost Bach-like delicacy in the rewriting of the cadences, etc. Beautifully done.

This recording has a certain meditative touch, a calm intelligence that one didn't notice in the intense blast of ideation emanating from [IKS]'s ABSTR/CNCR (again, see my review in the July edition). The two bassists keep the time plastic,. drummer Ritchie has some of the command of midperiod Jack deJohnette, and Bibace is a delight. His tone landing someplace between Jim Hall and John Abercrombie, Bibace keeps things unsettled in a good way. Ritchie's catchy uptempo "The Procrastinator" shows him in the best light, as a lengthy break gives his ideas a chance to state their piece. His solos curl and untwine; you'll be knitting your brows as opposed to your fingers. He leaps to nicely in the more outre "Dolphy Dance," and in the closing "In Remembrance" essays a glowing-candle effect that makes yours truly think he'd be well served by a group of his own, when he has a chance. If not already. Note also on this track the long seductive bowed tones from the bass. Wish I knew which of the guys was responsible, Lober or Reynolds. But if you really must have something more loose-limbed, there's a silly schizo theme after "In Remembrance" that's a bit like the old Miles Davis 'Go-Go' snippet that his '60s quintets used to round off their sets to. Good fun.

Some of the 'intelligence' I mentioned, of course, is Craig's as well since the ambience here is a 'group,' not a case of John Klemmer- itis. Craig is well on his way to a take on the tradition very much his own, the debt to Trane notwithstanding, and UNDERGLASS is a very cool addition to the canon. -K.E.

New Sounds - October 2004

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Copyright Jazz Now, October 2004 issue, all rights reserved Haybert K. Houston, Publisher Editor in Chief, Jazz Now

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