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Live At Beanbenders

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Album Review

For those who are familiar with Oregon's creative tenor saxophonist Halley, this is a fine addition to his small but mighty discography (also including "Multnomah Rhythms," "Saxophone Animals" and "Umatilla Variations.") Those new to Halley will find a refreshing, native American influenced approach in making music centered in spontaneous composition with guideposts, laced with surprise after pleasant surprise.

Halley's sound can be gruff, spiritual, lyrical, dark, cynical, hopeful, or fluttery as a bird. He also plays the percussion instruments of the tribes and pow wows. His sax sound embraces the great outdoors mixed with the vastness of the universe. Sharing space with formidable talents like trumpeter Rob Blakeslee, potent trombonist Michael Vlatkovich and the unpredictable x-factor that is saxophonist (esp. bari) Troy Grugett, Halley has quite a front line launching pad. These five extended cuts shift and adjust so naturally, in a way very reminiscent of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Drummer William Thomas is dynamic, whether doling out Serengeti type rhythms, swinging blues in mid-tempo, or adding fill and flavor whenerver there's a need. Ebb and flow, free wheeling, seemingly endless ideas stream, from staggered phrases, no time conversations, and American Indian percussion jams that punctuate Halley's music and life.

The character of this music, decidedly free bop (or not bop,) is not as important as the character of the musicians involved. They're straight up guys, playing their feelings, what improvised music should be all about. Kudos for being bold enought to attempt, and succeed in spades. Recorded in concert at Beanbenders, Berkley, CA. 5/10/98. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Live At Beanbenders, Rich Halley
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