Tenor saxophonist White, a native of Arizona, assembled a top-notch band to bring his music to life. With the help of producer David Binney (a noted saxophonist-composer), the results really shine.
The blend of White's brawny tenor sound with the sparkling and adventurous flute work of Jamie Baum (a Fairfield, CT, native) keeps the listener involved. Add to that the heady keyboard contributions of Roberta Piket and the music shines. The rhythm section, Gary Wang (acoustic bass) and Jeff Hirschfield (drums), not only drives the music but also interacts with the soloists very intelligently.
This music has no clutter. The title track builds off of White's unaccompanied opening lines, with the band coming in and the flute playing in unison and then right into the tenor solo. His lines have a circular feel, phrases curling around each others creating dynamic tension and a feel as if the music was rising like a balloon. The rhythmic intensity grows through to the end of the flute solo.
Baum opens the ballad "Washington Heights" atop shimmering cymbals and soft piano chords. White joins in on the second chorus and then both drop out and the rhythm section gently moves the piece forward. After one more reading of the theme, the tempo picks up and Piket takes off. All of a sudden, the music is like a careening cab ride on the Harlem River Parkway. When White takes over, the music slows back down and the tenor lines become heavy with emotion. Baum switches to alto flute for the closing section giving more gravitas to the sound.
"Triality" has a very funky, quirky, rhythmic opening, with Piket moving to Fender Rhodes piano and the addition of guest Patrick Hay's slithery guitar lines. What's most impressive here is that, while the music has great power and forward motion, it's neither loud nor abrasive. The flute and tenor lines intertwine and then White takes off. His sound is reminiscent of the late Michael Brecker but White has an airiness to his notes that allow even the most dense phrases to breathe.
I can imagine this music, lively and refreshing on CD, is exciting in person. Until you get to see and hear Glenn White in concert, "Sacred Machines" is very satisfying modern jazz. For more information, go to www.glennwhite.net or go to www.oa2records.com.