Article The Big Sax CD - Contemporary Baritone Saxophones by Libero Farnè has been published on All About Jazz Italia:
Baritone Sax Titans: The Big Sax [...]
By Jeff Stockton
The Big Sax
Dedicating oneself to the baritone saxophone indicates a big personality, so it's surprising that few jazz stars have emerged on the instrument. Aside from Gerry Mulligan and Pepper Adams (from the mainstream) and John Surman and Hamiet Bluiett (from just outside the mainstream), most of the other players that come to mind are tenor men or altoists first. The releases considered here offer approaches to the instrument as distinctive as the individual musicians doing the playing.
The Big Sax CD is a useful compilation of practitioners from around the world, including Italy, the US, UK, Finland, Russia and Cuba. Solo performance seems to be the essence of baritone playing and the majority of tracks (ranging one to five per artist) are just that, with the remainder adding an accompanist (piano, violin, drums, trumpet, electronics) to form various combinations. Only American Charles Evans is represented in a (pianoless) quartet and Brit George Haslam makes the central statement with pianist Roi Maciaz on “El Puntanito”. But the most offbeat and compelling offering comes from Russia's Sergey Letov, who layers vocals and electronic effects over his sax to show what can move the baritone into jazz' 2nd century.
Tracks and Personnel
The Big Sax
Carlo Actis Dato: Anatra; Tasso; Fenice; Due Bisonti; Talpa; Charles Evans: What; On Tone Yet Part I (Mover's Mood for Annie); On Tone Yet Part II; Micropterus Salmoides; George Haslam: Viejo Lobo; El Puntanito; Thinking Allowed; Mikko Innanen: Adler; Phönix; Merkur; Sergey Letov: Semipalatinsk; LeBorRa; Javier Zalba: Como Fué
Serguei Letov is the musician whose interests and aspirations wholly flow in the channel of the new jazz or, to be more exact, new improvisation music. Along with this, his broad fame in some paradoxical way goes beyond the circle elite narrow new jazz audience. In spite of the fact that during his music carrier he has been engaged in one and the same thing, namely, in search for new phonations, in widening his instrumental and sonoric state addressing the future of music - either to the utmost radical avant-garde or the utmost ancient past - archaic folklore layers, attempts to work out a new language and develop new musical expression utterances, in spite of such linearity and one-direction development, Letov persistently turns to be involved into a great variety of projects that sometimes are far away from jazz itself. These are theatre performances (Anatoly Vassiliev and Mikhail Mokeev, Alexander Filippenko and Italian theatre groups), artistic happenings (Andrei Monastyrsky and "Collective Actions", Yury Leiderman, TOTART and others), and Literary-musical projects (Dmitry Prigov, Vladimir Druk and so on), participation in academic music performances (Sofia Gubaidullina, Svetlana Golybina), and gala concerts in Rock-groups' stuff ("Aquarium", "DDT", "Centre", "DK", "Alisa", and others) and even the clown theatre ("Litsedei - 4"). All this is done without taking into account his new jazz projects with Kuryokhin, Shilkloper, Makarov, Gayvoronsky, Ponomareva, Saynkho and other stars. He is the constant "Pop-Mechanics" soloist, the founder of "TRI O", the author of film music, film actor, the speaker at theory symposia, the author of critical essays in special journals. Of course, such creative breadth leads to wide popularity. But no matter what clothes he is performing today in, he is constantly concerned with one thing - that is playing his instrumental spontaneous and unpredictable music.
Nikolai Dmitriev, Arkhangelsk International Fest'95
Of course, one needn't be an Afro or American derivative to employ the structure, strategies, and freedoms of jazz. [...] particularly provocative small unit - Trio.., led by soprano sax/flute/bass clarinet Sergei Letov... delved deeply into themselves for motives and vocabularies. They emerge with music based on personal and social experiences, generated by the same faith in spontaneous, self-aware utterance and life's vital pulse that gave rise to the earliest and sustains the newest jazz.
Howard Mandel DOWN BEAT, Sept.1988