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  • Jonathan Widran

RADAM SCHWARTZ, Saxophone Quartet Music

In a fascinating retro-cultural coincidence, the release of veteran organist and renowned educator Radam Schwartz’s unique and fascinating album Saxophonist Quartet Music (featuring his compositions and arrangements) releases just after actor Kevin Bacon returned to the Utah high school where Footloose was shot to mark the iconic film’s 40th anniversary.


It’s doubtful that anyone there heard Schwartz’s punchy, staccato, whimsy filled sax quartet twist on the movie’s classic #1, Grammy nominated hit “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” (which kicks off the winsome collection), but if any of the kids there did, they would be up grooving and dancing as if it were simply an artsier, jazzier take on the Deniece Williams version.


Though best known as for his decades of organ bravura with everyone from Arthur Prysock, David “Fathead Newman” and Al Hibbler, Schwartz played sax back in high school and clearly still has an affinity for the vast melodic, harmonic and percussive potential instrument – or four (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone) as the case may be here. An influential jazz educator long dedicated to nurturing the talents of up and comers, Schwartz’s five originals and arrangements of three outside songs (including “With These Hands” and Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin’s “My Ship”) are designed as showcases for three of his most talented former students from the Jazz Institute of New Jersey – Marcus G. Miller (soprano), Irwin Hall (alto) and Anthony Ware (tenor). Schwartz’s friend Max Schweiger (baritone) rounds out the incredibly intuitive, inventive and seamless quartet.


Highlights among the originals include the quirky, quick paced and charmingly adventurous “Sway In Rincon” (ode to a beautiful town on the West Coast of Puerto Rico); the exotic, Latin fired and exciting, high spirited “The Ancients,” which highlights the harmonic magic of the four horns while giving Hall a colorful solo spotlight; and the vibrant, life affirming celebration “As Long As You’re Remembered,” inspired by a West African proverb about leaving a legacy.

 

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