Thursday, February 3, 2011

Jake Fryer: In Good Company

Jake Fryer (sax)
In Good Company (Capri Records; 2011)

Bud Shank (alto sax)
Bob Magnusson (bass)
Joe La Barbera (drums)
Mike Wofford (piano)

Jake Fryer is already an accomplished saxophonist on the British scene. Working and leading four different groups including this collaboration with the legendary Bud Shank, Fryer has always shown a deep respect for Bebop and displays his talent amazingly well. This pairing of legend/mentor and student if you will is perfect blend of past, present and future. There is really no where for the listener to find objections with In Good Company.

Recorded unfortunately hours before Bud Shank's passing, In Good Company is a bright, affectionate outing that brims with energy and joy. Predominately containing original material from Jake Fryer, in particular, the lovely "Agnieszka" in which Fryer shows some touching and relaxed phrasing on alto. The addition of Shank's full rhythm section is an adding bonus for the listener as well. Mike Wofford, a longtime member of Shank's band delivers some unbelievable work throughout this recording but for me "Agnieszka" packs the loveliest of punches.

"Bopping With Bud" is an obvious but respectful tribute to the legend. The tone and tete-a-tete that Shank and Fryer share is superb. Bud Shank's delivery is tight and thin tone but with the voice of distinction. Fryer displays a bold, round sound that surrounds proceeding. There is real reverence here but also a great deal of playfulness that is exciting to hear.

The standards "Almost Like Falling In Love" and the perennial "Caravan" both display a sense of romance and vibrancy that make In Good Company a compelling and energetic session. "Speak Low" a Kurt Weil classic, boils over with Bebop vigour. While Fryer and Shank are delightful in their exchanges, Wofford, Magnusson and La Barbera are really smokin' with urgency.

Jake Fryer's dream of performing with one of his heroes was fulfilled with In Good Company. But it is we the listener who are honoured with a wonderful document of a legend and a beautiful vision of the future of Jake Fryer.

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