"Intuitive and almost subliminal."
HAPPY SAX…Chris Madsen: Bonfire, Kevin Sun: The Sustain of Memory
Review by George W. Harris
December 2, 2019
Tenor saxes for the 21st Century…
Chris Madsen shows a debt to John Coltrane as he and his tenor sax lead a quartet of Dana Hall,dr, Clark Sommers/b and Stu Mindeman through a collection of his own tunes. The waltzing “Lone Wolf” has a classic and vintage Impulse! record sound, with the team getting rockish on a dark “Cool Sun.” Hall’s mallets create a somber mood for the thoughtful “Hundred Center” and the military pulsed “ Cellar Door” features a softer side of the tenor, and it works wonders, while the post bopping “Authority” has Madsen and Mindeman doing a wondrous arm wrestle. Cries in the dark.
Gentle conversant journeys are taken by leader Kevin Sun, as he plays tenor sax and clarinet on these three opuses stretched out over two discs. He’s accompanied by a mix and match team of trumpeter Adam O’Farrill, pianist Dana Saul, bassists Walter Stinson-Simon Willson and drummers Matt Honor-Dayeon Seok.
On clarinet for a 48 minute “The Rigors of Love,” Sun leads a quartet through three loosely woven pieces, a mourning opener, puffy and intuitive middle and drifting close with the horns leaning toward melancholia. On tenor with a trumpetless trio for “The Middle of Tensions”, elliptical dark shadows are created on a medium tempo “IV” with Honor riding the cymbal to coax along “VI” while some rich harmonies are formed on “V”. The “Circle Line” has ten pieces ranging from just under two minutes to just under four, with dark subtones from Sun to pleading sighs. Intuitive and almost subliminal.