By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Let's
Reed instruments have been featured in jazz groups since the genre began. The clarinet was king in the beginning, when icons such as Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw gained their fame on that “horn.” As bands grew larger, entire reed sections were introduced, consisting of alto and tenor saxophones, often a pair of each. In many cases, one of those musicians also would double on the baritone sax. That big instrument eventually became a staple, and the reed section grew from four to five members.
Half a dozen individuals became stars with that big horn during the big band years: Harry Carney (with Duke Ellington’s unit), Cecil Payne (John Coltrane), Serge Chaloff (Woody Herman), Gerry Mulligan (Elliot Lawrence), Leo Parker (Coleman Hawkins) and Jack Nimitz (Herman and Kenton).
As time passed, we began to hear from the next generation of artists who chose the baritone sax as their primary instrument. Adam Schroeder is one of the newest, and many consider him to be one of the best. Because of the horn’s size and its musical range, it’s difficult to play while producing a clean tone. Schroeder has no trouble in that regard; he gets a gorgeously full bodied, almost sweet sound throughout the full register.
While swinging like crazy.
Schroeder owes much of his success to Clark Terry, who first heard the newcomer at his Institute of Jazz Studies. In addition to Terry, Schroeder has worked with Louie Bellson, Ray Charles, Diane Krall, Sting, John Pizzarelli, Chris Botti and Bob Mintzer, to name just a few.
This is the second album released under his own name. Schroeder is supported by guitarist Anthony Wilson and — in my view — the best rhythm duo working today: bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton. This use of a guitar, rather than a piano, really helps move the group.
Five of the 11 tracks are Schroeder originals; the rest are jazz standards such as Duke Pearson’s “Hello, Bright Sunflower,” Sam Koslo’s “In the Middle of a Kiss” and Benny Carter’s “Southside Samba.”
This is a great, swinging album by a quartet of masters.