Spoken Into Existence

Chico Freeman 4+Tet

 

(Rens Newland/Jive Music Austria)

 

 

Chico Freeman – Saxophones

Heiri Känzig – Bass

Michael Baker – Drums

Antionio Faraò – Piano

 

 

Saxophonist Chico Freeman’s captivating Spoken Into Existence is a well-crafted album that successfully balances accessibility with inventiveness. Freeman penned most of the original material on this delightful release that he and his quartet interpreted with sophistication and exciting spontaneity. Their virtuosity and lyrical style give the disc its cohesiveness and understated, definite charm. 

 

At the core of the recording are five ethereal pieces dedicated to each one of Freeman’s daughters. They range from the undulating “Lara’s Lullaby” to the Latin-tinged “Nia’s Quest” and the mystical “Dance of Light for Luani” to the mellifluous “Erika’s Reverie” and expansive “N’tiana’s Dream.” Freeman solos with intelligence and tenderness on all of them as he tailors his muscular phrases to the ambience of the individual tracks. Drummer Michael Baker propels the music with his reserved and thrilling rumble while bassist Heiri Känzig and pianist Antionio Faraò provide softly swinging and elegant rhythmic vamps. 

 

After Freeman, Faraò has the largest share of the time in the spotlight. His composition, “Black Inside,” is built around the band’s sparse refrains, giving the tune a darkly hued lounge-like mood. Freeman’s resonant, agile lines meander in intriguing circles while Faraò infuses his own crystalline improvisation with Western classical hints. 

 

Känzig shines both as a composer and instrumentalist. On the leader’s funky “India Blue,” he takes an eloquent and soulful extemporization while Faraò’s bluesy keys roll with elegant fluidity. Freeman’s saxophone swaggers with soul and lets loose simmering and reverberating tones. Känzig’s own passionate “Niskayuna” is a romantic ballad with a crepuscular atmosphere. Freeman’s acerbic, bittersweet melody unfurls over his sidemen’s shimmering sounds. Faraò takes center stage with a warm and poetic performance.

 

Freeman has already established himself as the preeminent musician of his generation, so it’s not surprising that he continues to produces superb works like this one. Spoken Into Existence is a creative slice of mainstream jazz that should appeal to a wide audience.

Reviewed by Hrayr Attarian

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