By Frank Alkyer | Published February 2015
There’s an easy beauty in the music of George Garzone. He is a saxophonist of monstrous chops and equally monstrous taste. Both are on display onCrescent, released by the Jazz Hang label. Joined by Leo Genovese on piano and Esperanza Spalding on bass, this is a casual trio project where everyone digs in for a good time. The recording session was a bit of a Berklee College of Music reunion: Genovese and Spalding, both former Berklee students, became bandmates with Garzone, a professor there. Genovese and Spalding have a great rapport, which has developed during the years he has spent in her band. And here, all three musicians have amazing chemistry. The opening tune, “The Girl From Argentina,” is a beautiful, Latin-inspired ballad with a great, tongue-in-cheek title. The tune glides with Garzone delivering just the right tone on tenor, playing with and against Spalding’s lovely vocalese. Garzone’s “Hey Open Up” and John Coltrane’s “Crescent” both reflect Trane’s influence on Garzone’s music. On “Hey Open Up,” Garzone opens up with rapid firing and then turns it over to Spalding, who rips her solo. (For those who have thought of Spalding only as a singer fronting her own bands, think again. She is a bassist of the highest caliber, and a collaborator who adds something valuable to every set she plays.) Genovese completes the cycle with a blistering work of his own as Spalding walks the bass line. And Garzone takes it to the outro with precision and bliss. The title track features a big, beautiful sound from Garzone’s tenor with Genovese racing across the piano keys with jaw-dropping chops, power and sheer beauty. From there, the trio drops into sweet renditions of “Like Someone To Love” and “I Want To Talk About You.” Both tunes, and the entire album, demonstrate amazing artistry coupled with a kindred spirit that is infectious.