Saturday, April 11, 2009

First take: Michael Adkins Quartet, Rotator

HatOLOGY 660

Michael Adkins, Tenor Saxophone
Russ Lossing, Piano
John Hebert, Bass
Paul Motion, Drums

This is the first in what I hope is an occasional series of CD reviews based on an initial listen or two to the recordings. (If I waited until I listened several times before I wrote a review, it might never get written!)

Tenor saxophonist Michael Adkins is a new name to me, although he's been based in New York City since 1998 and recorded a previous album in 2000. I don't know what he's been up to during the last decade, but overall Rotator is a very impressive (near) debut album. Adkins style is contemplative with bluesy overtones and a hint of Jan Garbarek's plaintiveness. I also hear echoes of Keith Jarrett's 70's quartet with Garbarek in the ways themes are sometimes stated in unison by the sax and piano. The rhythm section is not one in the traditional sense; there's a near telepathic interplay among all four and an elastic sense of time. Pieces seem to expand and contract as they evolve, and there's a sense of events unfolding in a logical way. If I have a quibble with Rotator, its that many of the performances are taken at roughly the same medium-fast tempo; it would have helped to have a little more variety. This slight homogeneity also has me wondering if Adkins is a one-trick pony. If he is, however, than it's a mighty nice trick. 

Rotator comes highly recommended for the organic group sound that the quartet generates, and I'm interested in what Mr. Adkins does next.

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