For those of you who happened across this CD by chance and are unfamiliar with this group, The Fringe has been a working trio for the last twenty plus years. The group consists of George Garzone on saxophones, John Lockwood on the upright bass and Bob Gulotti on the drums. The musicianship and interplay of these guys is at an almost inhuman level. For those that know jazz, I would compare them to the David S Ware Quartet, the George Adams-Don Pullen Quartet, the great Miles Davis mid-sixties quintet, etc. In other words, they are very good. This is a particularly interesting album in that the music seems to be rooted firmly in the post bop harmonies of, say, Trane but they never play any heads. It is as if the entire group launches into an improv from the get-go and yet melodies are suggested through out each song and there seems to my ears to be discernable chord progressions underneath everything. The effect is very ear-catching. The melodies are just out of reach, Garzone is endlessly inventive, and Lockwood and Gulotti should be international standards of time. The only reason I did not give this a five-star review is that I have a strong prejudice against trios. I rarely find, especially when led by saxophone players, that there is enough of a tonal palette. I feel that Archie Shepp is the exception. Garzone comes close. He is an superb technician (as you would expect from someone who once taught Joshua Redman and Branford Marsalis). He gives his tenor a lot of different sounds but it is still limited compared to, e.g., what Roy Campbell can do with the trumpet in his trio or how The Fringe themselves sound on their In New York album where they add the vibraphone of Mat Manieri. But let me be clear- this CD is very much worth owning. This is a great trio making great and unique music together. I can only hope they make their way out to Portland, OR someday so I can hear them live.
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