This music by The Jamie Saft Quartet on Blue Dream conveys the feeling of both Cubism – with its immediate sense of multiple of melodic perspective, and simultaneity or multiplicity in the harmonic excursions made by Mr Saft and saxophonist Bill McHenry. The almost-palpably three-dimensional feeling continues, conveyed by the acute and robust angles of Bradley Christopher Jones’ contrabass and – more pointedly – the darting freedom in the free-wheeling tempi of Nasheet Waits’ drumming. But lest the cover illustration on the disc, a juxtaposed suggestion of Picasso(‘s) Blue Period and the title Blue Dream suggest that a sense that melancholy music is on the way – especially after a meditative beginning to the recording with “Vessels” and “Equamity” – perish the thought.
Mr Saft merely seems to be exploring a more contemplative aspect of his musicianship, something that appears to have been triggered by his last associations with Roswell Rudd. However, for be it to suggest that this is (as was in the case of the illustrious Basque) a sign Mr. Saft’s music is becoming, not merely melancholy but profoundly depressed and cheerless. Rather it might be the fact that the pianist is coming to terms with mortality. Certainly the slow – sometimes agonisingly so – progress of melodic progress, the aching twists and turns that chorus after chorus takes in the hands of Mr McHenry, the long, low dallying pizzicato growling of the contrabass and the rolling thunder of the drums. This adds credence to this feeling from “Infinite Compassion” to the end of “There’s a Lull in My Life”.
None of this means that the music is unforgiving and painful. On the contrary, the is a naked beauty and magnificent sense of wonder in the stark simplicity of phrase and utterance, not only by Mr Saft and his pianism, but also by the tenor saxophonist. You have to marvel at this when the two musicians converse on “Sweet Lorraine”. Slowly swinging brush-work by Mr Waits contributes enormously to the beauty of the music. The elongated curves of “Walls” and the more sharply sculpted ones on “Decamping” and “Words and Deeds” adds to the memorability of this album which, especially in its most mysterious and magical moments, is one to absolutely die for.
Track list – 1: Vessels; 2: Equanimity; 3: Sword’s Water; 4: Violets for Your Furs; 5: Blue Dream; 6: Infinite Compassion; 7: Sweet Lorraine; 8: Walls; 9: Decamping; 10: Words and Deeds; 11: Mysterious Arrangements; 12: There’s a Lull in My Life
Personnel – Jamie Saft: piano; Bill McHenry: tenor saxophone; Bradley Christopher Jones: contrabass; Nasheet Waits: drums
Released – 2018
Label: RareNoiseRecords (RNR 065)
Runtime – 55:34