Jane Ira Bloom, Early Americans (Outline Records)
In a piece that lasts less than two minutes, the purity of Jane Ira Bloom’s unaccompanied soprano saxophone in a piece titled, “Nearly (For Kenny Wheeler)” all but steals Early Americans. That is quite a feat, since in most of the album her colleagues are also master musicians—bassist Marc Helias and drummer Bobby Previte. The three call upon familiarity bred in a long history of collaboration and rhythmic like-mindedness. “Hips & Sticks,” “Rhyme Or Rhythm,” “Coronets Of Paradise” and “Big Bill” are prime examples of the trio’s ability to generate grooves and manipulate them in terms of tempo, density and coloration without sacrificing consistency of swing. In that regard. “Gateway To Progress” is notable. Helias, Previte, Ms. Bloom and engineer Jim Anderson manage to lighten the atmosphere as Ms. Bloom’s saxophone swings around the sonic spectrum. Then, amid the relative hush, they deepen the time-feel. All of the compositions in the album are Ms. Bloom’s except for Bernstein’s and Sondheim’s “Somewhere” from West Side Story. Like the piece dedicated to the late Wheeler, it presents her without accompaniment. It is—no other word for it—gorgeous in its presentation of the melody.
The album has been out for a year or so. Somehow, it had escaped me. Now it has a home.