For Sacred Machines, tenor man Glenn White has enlisted some of the most recognizable working jazz musicians in New York for a session of precisely played original modern jazz. White's horn is soulful and rich and he expertly uses the talents of his supporting players, particularly the subtle genius of pianist Roberta Piket and Jamie Baum's venturesome flute, to great advantage. The outcome is a synchronous group sound whose strongest suit is the interchange among the players as they blend and support each other. Bassist Gary Wang and drummer Jeff Hirshfield combine to affect a warm open sound that makes this stylistically varied program go down very easily. Produced by alto saxophonist David Binney, the ethos here is definitely one of interactional musicianship amid strong compositions.
Given the richness and commanding presence of White's horn, a lesser flutist could have easily been overshadowed or relegated to augmentation and coloration. Baum, however, is such a powerful player in her own right that she is able to meet White on equal terms. Such is the case on many of these cuts as the two back each other up without sacrificing their individuality, go toe-to-toe in call-and-response fashion or play in tandem for gorgeous voicings.
While there is more than a hint of modality here?most obvious when the tenor takes center stage alone against a three-piece rhythm section?the pieces in toto are musically varied. Precious chamber-like moments reveal themselves as a flute/tenor duet or in the guise of an achingly beautiful Piket solo. These add to the depth and character of these tunes but Piket also spices things up by switching to Rhodes to add some occasional funkiness. While there is some definite virtuosic showcasing here?and with these players there should be?the centripetal style of the group dynamic is where this release shines.