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... With Strings Attached

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Album Review

A stalwart of the San Francisco music scene, Jules Broussard is known internationally as a player whose jazz cameo appearances with Alice Coltrane or Carlos Santana, and on the pop/rock side, Stoneground, Van Morrison, Art Garfunkel, Johnny Otis, and Betty Davis comprise whatever fleeting fame he may have achieved. This project has the alto and tenor (not soprano) saxophonist performing with a small combo complemented by a ten-piece string ensemble. Pianist Larry Dunlap plays a prominent role as a co-conspirator — his presence is more pronounced in several aspects than the leader's in terms of overall group sound. The material is for the most part vintage straight-ahead jazz and standards, longtime favorites of Broussard's. What sets these songs apart from other string-laden arrangements behind jazz tunes is that the violins, violas, and cellos are not background afterthoughts or syrupy symphonic blankets. Instead the instruments are carefully placed in counterpointed snippet phrases that carry on distinct serve-and-volley conversations with the saxophonist and his band. For the most part, the concept works, though perhaps the strings could have been omitted from a few tunes, letting the small band stand alone on occasion. The string charts are generally unobtrusive, quite alluring and sweet. Momentarily sighing or moaning during the ballad "Harlem Nocturne" in a neo-classical chamber mode for Sidney Bechet's "Petite Fleur," nearly gossipy for the easy swingers "Topsy," "Close Your Eyes," and on the basso profundo end for "Smooth Sailing," the strings are a smart and sometimes whimsical aperitif. Broussard knows these classics well, he's not overbearing in his melodies or solos, and he keeps the proceedings to the point, with perhaps a trace of Charlie Parker or Lester Young creeping into his personal sound. As asides, there are Latin inflections, a lush version of Santana's "Europa," and the lesser known Harold Mabern blues swinger "Make Everybody Happy," with the strings pushed back for Broussard, Dunlap, and trombonist Dan Armstrong to play a unison line. An interesting but far from overwhelming or sugar-coated project, it is one Broussard should be proud of, and one to possibly be heard in concert performance. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Great sax player but definately NOT POP

Jules has been aroung the SF Bay Area music scene for quite some time. This is a good album but his live shows at Sweetwater in Mill Valley are not to be missed. iTunes should recognize this jazz artist by putting this selection in the proper category.


Born: March 27, 1937

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s

Reeds. Saxophonist best known for his work with Carlos Santana and Alice Coltrane...
Full Bio
... With Strings Attached, Jules Broussard
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Jun 22, 2007

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