Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Sarah Bernstein Quartet, Still/Free

The musical worlds of Sarah Bernstein are multi-faceted. There can be dark, moody moments, big electric-like sounds, poetic depth and anything in between, but she is always very much herself. On the current release she gives us music in an expanded tonal, beauteous quartet frame. The album is Still/Free (Leo 746). It centers around Sarah's violin of course and features the ever-piquant Kris Davis on piano, plus some first-rate, intelligent rhythm section drive from Stuart Popejoy on electric bass and Ches Smith on drums.

There are seven Bernstein originals that stand out as special and at the same time allow the band to freely swing around them with inimitable soloing from Sarah and Kris, nicely essential solo and group thrusts from Stuart, and world-class time and freedom from Ches.

It shows us in depth Sarah's more ambitiously modern jazz-centered playing and her carefully and effectively wrought modernist compositions in this vein. It establishes that we have something special going on in the way it all flows memorably, gives us some of her very fine, original violin work, essential Kris Davis soloing too and an exciting cohesive band that I hope can continue to play together, gig, make a bigger name for itself.

I love the music. I think you may well feel the same way. Bravo!

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