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Album Review

He's been playing for quite a while, largely as a sideman, but Mark Colby makes his Origin debut here, part of a series of Chicago musicians who the label quietly picked up bit by bit, all with excellent and individual sounds. On Reflections, Colby takes aim at a tribute to the various musical influences he began with, leaning heavily on the Great American Songbook, but also including a few items from elsewhere in the jazz realm (an excellent Ornette Coleman number and one of Tom Jobim's classics) and a few original compositions along the way. Colby breaks out in the first track with a rich sound, using the feel of a standard as an opening showcase. In "Myth Mary's Blues," an original, a bop palette is explored for a bit, exposing the rest of the ensemble for some excellent solos (in particular, bassist Eric Hochberg gets some excellent time, bending notes from his instrument perfectly for the setting). The sound slows down a bit in the title track, as Colby works a breathy sound almost (but not quite) evoking some of the old Coleman Hawkins recordings, and Jobim's "Desafinado" gets a slightly more modern spin, surprisingly not using the breathy tone (à la Stan Getz) that was aimed for in the previous track. "Like Someone in Love" gives Colby a place for a few nice flights of fancy, skimming through the scales, and Ornette's "Blues Connotation" comes out as a nice little jump, also enlisting Mike Pinto's guitar for some bubbling nylon-esque solos. Jeremy Kahn's piano sets a slower tone for Cole Porter's "So in Love," and another Colby composition brings out a flurry from the lead, climbing and descending his lines in a bit of a hurry, though Kahn gets some excellent solo time as well. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is given a sparse treatment that brings out the instruments in sharp detail, and the album ends with a piece (and an appearance) by altoist Phil Woods that combines the horns in parallel melodic lines as well as give-and-take passages. Colby has a habit on the album of placing moods and styles in with compositions that wouldn't normally call for them, but he pulls them off, modernizing the pieces a bit as he goes, finding avenues to showcase some considerable skill with the sax and accentuating the notable skills of the ensemble as a whole, with solos for all members shining brightly. The bulk of the compositions have had plenty of play, but the musicianship here makes them new again.


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '90s

Tenor, soprano sax, vocals. Competent soloist who's made two albums of light jazz, originals and soft...
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