The problem with saxophonist Rob Lockart's debut CD, Parallel Lives, is that it's hard to get past the opening cut, the America Songbook classic, Arthur Altman's "All Or Nothing At All." It's a problem of the sublime variety?this rendition of the familiar tune is magnificent. Lockart is locked into the emotion of the tune, the aching, sometimes searing uncertainty of the outcome of the ultimatum, the possibility of ending up on the wrong side of the choice to be made.
Lockart is a Los Angeles-based artist, working in the film and television arenas, in addition to his tenure in the Chris Walden Big Band, where he has contributed memorable and heartfelt solos on Charlie Haden's "Here's Looking At You" and Rodgers and Hart's "You Took Advantage of Me," on the Grammy-nominated Home of My Heart (Origin, 2005).
The three golden rules for an artist's debut CD should be: one?get some real pros to sit in as sidemen; two?assert your own artistic voice; and three?play your ass off. Put a check mark in all three boxes for Parallel Lives; mission accomplished on all three counts.
Lockart's original title cut?six of the eight tunes are from his pen?burns with a Michael Brecker-like fire, turning up the heat on a modern sounding cooker. His "Waiting for the Truth," (Lockart on soprano sax), feels as if it was inspired by John Coltrane's A Love Supreme (Impulse!,1964)?introspective, mysterious, and darkly haunting.
The rhythm section guys provide stellar accompaniment, especially pianist Bill Cunliffe, with a light, sparkly touch that complements Lockart's adroitly muscular lines. On the closer, "It's Not Over Yet," Lockart brings in tenor saxophonist and fellow Los Angelinan, Bob Sheppard, on a tune that features both horns blowing hard on a modern, dark-hued, hard-driving romp.
Rob Lockart and company shine up the mainstream sound and move it forward. With a first rate saxophone and rhythm section, Parallel Lives is a fantastic debut.