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Album Review

The World Saxophone Quartet always believed in putting on a show, although without watering down its adventurous music. The nine numbers on this set are generally concise (only two songs exceed six minutes) and consist of originals by all four saxophonists: altoist Julius Hemphill (who contributed four of the nine pieces), baritonist Hamiet Bluiett, altoist Oliver Lake and tenor saxophonist David Murray. Sometimes quite rhythmic (and almost danceable) despite not having a rhythm section, the WSQ used melodies and rhythm for their own purposes, creating unpredictable music that always holds one's attention. This release is a good example of their talents.

Biography

Formed: 1977

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Probably the first of several saxophone-only ensembles who proliferated in jazz after 1975, the WSQ is unquestionably the most commercially (and, arguably, the most creatively) successful. Of course, commercial success is a relative thing in jazz, especially when one is speaking of an avant-garde group. But unlike most free jazz artists, the WSQ managed to attract an audience of significant size; large enough to have garnered a major-label record deal in the '80s, an almost unheard-of occurrence...
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