Chicago tenor saxophonist Greg Fishman’s new CD features seven original tunes written when he was on tour in Bangkok, Singapore and Japan. Melodic, straight-ahead jazz with a cool mix of Bebop and Brazilian styles. This is an all-acoustic recording with incredible sound, featuring the same great Chicago rhythm section that plays on all of Greg's play-along discs--- Dennis Luxion (piano), Eric Hochberg (bass), and Phil Gratteau (drums). The CD also features liner notes by acclaimed jazz writer Scott Yanow.
1. Champagne Jane
3. Floating Down
4. New Journey
6. The Ninth Degree
Downbeat Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Unsung Chicago tenor saxophonist Greg Fishman is worth our respect. He's a hardworking Midwesterner who's built a viable career out of playing, teaching and publishing a plethora of valuable academic texts for musicians. He's also a world authority on Stan Getz, and there are whiffs of Getz in his balladeering and curlicue adornments, but otherwise Fishman is a less ethereal player. He's steeped in Chicago's tough tenor tradition, whether by accident or design, and his playing is rich in drive and detail, somewhat reminiscent of (non-Chicagoan) George Coleman.
Fishman's deep knowledge of the mechanics of jazz leads to such compositions as "The Ninth Degree," inspired by his penchant for his favorite chord note, and "Boppertunity" a tobogganing theme built over "All God's Children Got Rhythm." But Fishman is more than mere scholar-there's heart, nuanced tonality, interaction and snappy composition here.
Plus, the tasty rhythm section has a wealth of experience. Dennis Luxion is known for vintage sojourns with Chet Baker, but he currently hones his skills at late jams at Chicago's Green Mill jazz club; Eric Hochberg's sure time and rich tone have been sought by leaders such as Pat Metheny, Terry Callier and Jackie Allen; and drummer Phil Gratteau is another unheralded local stalwart.
One of Fishman's most fluid, painterly solos comes on the impressionistic "Floating Down," a waltz built with wholestep descending major seventh chords that features intelligent solos from Luxion and Hochberg and a chilled bell note kiss from the leader to close things out.
Elsewhere there's plenty of straight-ahead, no nonsense grooving, such as on "Champagne Jane" (nice incidence of false-fingered shadow boxing from the tenor) and the Latin-tinged "Dahlia" spontaneously named for an active audience member. This is a compact, consistent album that doesn't outstay its welcome.