WINDMILL SAXOPHONE QUARTET
JazzTimes says “an astonishing palette of sound from the unorthodox instrumentation...inventive and full of panache, with a dash of the experimental avant garde.” Led by a huge-sounding bass sax with a constantly changing mix of other gorgeously recorded reeds, This ‘N’ That is fifteen songs that span the gambit from Windmill originals to “Lush Life”, “I Am the Walrus”, “Naima” and “Burning Down The House”. “Tight riff-heavy arrangements, carefully woven contrapuntal lines, a propulsive sense of rhythm, and cleanly articulated concise solos,” according to Cadence. (#GV9802)
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All About Jazz:
The Washington, D.C. based Windmill Saxophone Quartet employs soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, and bass saxophones along with flutes and clarinets in an adventurous session that was recorded in 1990 but released just this year.
Clayton Englar, Jesse Meman, Ken Plant, and Tom Monroe combine timbres from dissimilar instruments – such as piccolo with bass sax – to support their wide spectrum of ideas. Working without a rhythm section, the quartet relies on sensible arrangements that allow the artists to trade roles seamlessly. Their most frequently used approach combines soprano, alto, tenor, and bass saxophones in logical harmonies. You can find more information at http://members.aol.com/GloblVillg/ .
John Coltrane's ballad "Naima" is performed with interwoven saxophone voices; traditional solo work is offered by Plant on tenor, Englar on bass,and Meman on alto. Similarly, Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" flows with lyrical phrasing from flutes, clarinet, alto and tenor. The Lennon-McCartney favorite "I Am the Walrus" captures the light spirit of the original with flute, bass sax, piccolo, and changing inner voices. Englar provides a solid bass saxophone riff to anchor Bronislau Kaper's "Invitation," which includes lively solo work from each of the other three saxophonists. The quartet's original compositions allow them to offer a wide variety of sounds that stretch from traditional swing to today's avant-garde. The session's highlight is Charlie Parker's "Be-Bop," which places the foursome in a lengthy eight-minute arrangement that seems to combine the music of Supersax with that of the World Saxophone Quartet. Recommended.
The Windmill Saxophone Quartet are four reeds playing without any rhythm section or other accompaniment. The group creates an astonishing palette of sound from the unorthodox instrumentation. The quartet includes Clayton Englar, Jesse Meman, Ken Plant, and Tom Monroe, and each plays a variety of members of the saxophone family, as well as clarinets and flutes. They were quite active on the Washington, DC, area scene in the late '80s and early '90s. The group's arrangements are inventive and full of panache, with a dash of the experimental avant garde, both re-working jazz standards and including clever original pieces. Notwithstanding the absence of a rhythm section, the quartet pulls off a dynamic presentation that is full of forward movement and sustains interest.
(1)"Windmill Saxophone Quartet, "This'n'That"
On the proof of these two releases, the saxophone quartet has made its way from novelty line-up or free-Jazz fringes to be absorbed into far more mainstream settings. Though The Windmill Sax Quartet hails from the U.S. and Sax Four Fun from Italy, both share an approach that absorbs a variety of sources info a fairly straight-ahead, melodious, harmonically rich mix.
On (1) the Washington, DC-based contingent constructs a set from originals and covers that range trom Strayhorn to Parker to Coltrane to the Beatles to Tom Waits to The Talking Heads. What each of these tunes share is tight riff-heavy arrangements, carefully woven contrapuntal lines, a propulsive sense of rhythm, and cleanly articulated concise solos. The four extend the sonic palette of their lyrical orchestration with the inclusion of flutes, piccolo, and clarinets. Though each tune contains room for two or three solos, these explorations are kept quite concise and sonorous, with brief forays into freely tinged overblowing and harmonics. Instead, focus is placed on the group interaction, with the four players starting and stopping on a dime, trading licks with rapid-fire reactions. There is plenty of expert playing here and the four are adept at careful listening.
This is the second recording by the Windmill Saxophone Quartet. Their joy in playing explodes in every measure. The arrangements - of everything from "I Am The Walrus" to "Naima", not to mention standards and originals - are beautiful.
Windmill Saxophone Quartet is everything it says on the label, four guys with saxophones who know how to play them better than you do, unless you happen to be something special on the sax. There's some really fine music going on here, with clear phrasing and a give and take that many musicians spend years developing. Clayton Englar, Jesse Melman, Ken Plant and Tom Monroe are just plain talented at making jazz happen.
The record starts off with "Invitation," which incorporates the sort of tunes you've heard everywhere and nowhere. It's a good way to get started. Original compositions begin with track number two, "That," which begins with a whistle and a circus kind of theme and develops into something introspective and jazzy and bouncy all at once. The saxophone, it should be added, is among the most expressive of instruments, and these guys know how to draw some serious range out of their horns. They can make four horns stand up and sing hallelujah in a chorus. In case you were wondering, there is a tune called "That" to go along with "This" and give the album its title. Like much off "This n' That" it's an earful of goodness. If you think it's amazing what one talented sax player can do, four is a real treat. In addition to "This" and "That" you get thirteen more tracks, mostly originals. Don't discount all the covers, though. Windmill's rendition of Parker's "Be-Bop" bops quite nicely, thank you very much. From their own material, my pick has got to be "Off-White Rhapsody." It works. It's that simple.