Saxophone is where it's often at in contemporary jazz, the gutsy, often spiritual playing, digging deep side that is stemming from the inspiration of John Coltrane, still.
Take Dayna Stephens here on tenor and baritone saxophones thriving in a very open playing situation, the best way to encounter the virtuoso player, along with Ben Street on acoustic bass and the Elvin Jones-of-our-times, the great Eric Harland on drums.
The three have been making records together going back some 13 years to The Timeless Now and this latest record feels lived in given their mutual understanding for one another, not too ripe, which is a very good thing. An uncluttered group sound suits all three players and Street's tonally rich sound is Stephens' rock while Harland's fills are the best in the business and you can really hear him in loads of detail throughout as he explores and cajoles.
Liberty won't change my life, and I'll still be heading to Gratitude for Stephens' best work which made a good attempt at rocking my world. Listening to the saxist however makes me for one listen to jazz with new ears all over again and that's why Stephens' records continue to set the agenda every time they appear. SG