As the evening progressed, Caliman’s playing took on much of the intensity and coloration of John Coltrane’s work, but he is a more directly rhythmic player than Coltrane was toward the end of his life and from that standpoint is reminiscent of Dexter Gordon. Whatever his influences, Caliman is an inventive and cheerful soloist.
Caliman recently retired as a college music educator but not as a tenor saxophonist. He still
sounds cheerful and at least as inventive as during his heyday (he made his first records in Los Angeles in 1949 when he was seventeen and a student of Gordon). With Thomas Marriott on trumpet and a splendid rhythm section, Caliman has a Coltrane quotient on ballads like his lovely “Linda” and Kurt Weill’s “This Is New.” He employs plenty of Gordon’s brand of incisiveness and swing on faster pieces including Joe Henderson’s “If.” Yet, there is no mistaking him for anyone but Hadley Caliman. Young Marriott, increasingly impressive for his fluency and capacious sound, is an ideal front line partner and contrasting soloist. Vibraharpist Joe Locke, bassist Phil Sparks and drummer Joe LaBarbera have fine solo moments and comprise a blue ribbon support team.
This CD is about fifty minutes long. I point that out in praise, not condemnation. The fact that a compact disc can run eighty minutes does not mean that it should. On Caliman’s record, solos are thoughtful, to the point and memorable. They could have gone on longer, but they didn’t need to. Could this be a trend? Let us hope so.