Jack Wright - "Up For Grabs", Spring Garden Music

Michel Doneda / Jack Wright / Tatsuya Nakatani - "From Between", SoS Editions

Saxophonist Jack Wright was a mysterious figure to me for the longest time. It's almost as if he were lost somewhere in a parallel universe. Then, I'd dived into these two CDs. Maybe he intentionally stayed out of the spotlight. Since he likes to release limited edition "Ears Only" series CD-Rs, he admits he's not very comfortable with being on the market. Maybe he just prefers to stay in the shade of obscurity.

On "Up For Grabs", Jack Wright explores the sound of his soprano and alto horns. He starts of with the premise that the saxophone can take on many permutations and can wear many masks. "The Hissed" is an exploration of the more hushed side of his soprano [you can distinctly hear the spittle coming from his mouthpiece], while "The Heist" is a more direct, pull-no-punches approach to his horn. Here, he blows in straight and in all directions in fact, not shying away from over-doing his sound or being too awkward. The high-pitched squelching tones he achieves are quite effective and work well. When "The Host" comes along, Jack sounds are nearly mechanical as the sounds he procures are just plainly not very human. The alto pieces are equally moving, innovating and fascinating to listen to all at once. Though you may not find this release in your favourite record store [I recommend going directly to Spring Garden Music's site], it is something that should definitely be preserved and heard. As Jack accurately points out in the liner notes, "Lose the bar code, ears only."

The trio session "From Between" is an exercise in control by two reed men Michel Doneda and Jack Wright along with percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani. These long pieces are all about the art of restraint and show off the means and methods of achieving their craft. Both Wright and Doneda undertake the difficult task of playing in hushed tones, with what sounds like some sort of breathing techniques. What turns my crank the most is how delicately they stretch the tones in the first half-an-hour piece. It's almost as if time didn't exist. None of these players are in any sort of a rush. Tatsuya Nakatani's percussive work is stunning in its delicacy. He massages the cymbals ever so gently and when he uses the brushes, it's always with the utmost care and respect for those playing along with him. One of the signs of a great record is the melting of the sound sources. Sometimes the players produce a whistling sound, and just then, I think to myself, who the hell is that coming out of? Is it one of the reed men, or is the percussionist fiddling around on the cymbals. A fine record from a trio that knows how to use their colourful palette of sounds.

Tom Sekowski

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