John Wojciechowski

Focus

origin 82699

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MUSIC REVIEW BY Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader

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Saxophonist John Wojciechowski moved to the area from his native Detroit in 2002, following his wife, who landed an advertising job. He eventually settled in Bartlett and began a full-time gig as a high school music teacher. Since then he's made the 30-minute commute into the city countless times, slowly and steadily integrating himself into the straight-ahead jazz community by working with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra and settling into steady gigs with bands led by Joan Hickey, Dana Hall, and Laurence Hobgood, among others. His versatility sparkles on his brand-new second album, Focus (Origin), an effort populated by collaborators like drummer Hall, bassist Dennis Carroll, and pianist Ryan Cohan. It's hard not to zero in on "Summon the Elders," a bruising original that brings its title to life by channeling John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, and Elvin Jones (Hall's titanic introduction is so impressive that Wojciechowski included it as its own composition, entitled "Call of the Kingdom"). Later in the album, he offers "Elegy," an introspective tribute to his late father that progresses from melancholy to triumph; adeptly reharmonizes Monk's "Evidence," retrofitting it with a clave groove; and gives an elegant two-part structure to "Divided Man," a tune that sits deep in the pocket of Chicago's soulful tenor tradition. The full quartet performs tonight.






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