Ralph Bowen - Due Reverence

Album review. Sax player Ralph Bowen with five well crafted pieces honoring musicians who have been a guiding influence.


Release date: February 23rd 2010

Availability: CD, MP3 Download

Ralph Bowen: Due Reverence cover

Following Chris Potter's excellent example on 'Gratitude', Ralph Bowen continues where he had begun with his first Posi-Tone release 'Dedicated' with five well crafted pieces honoring musicians who have been a guiding influence. Only while you would recognize all of Chris Potter's influences (Joe Henderson, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, Eddie Harris, Michael Brecker…) you may not have heard of many of the influences cited by Ralph Bowen.

On 'Dedicated' he referenced Keith Blackley, Pat LaBarbera, Jim Blackley, David N. Baker, Prof William Fielder and Eugene Rousseau. Here on 'Due Reverence' he references Ted Dunbar ('Less Is More'), Bob Mintzer ('This One's For Bob'), Phil Nimmons ('Phil-osophy'), Prof James Scott ('Mr. Scott') and Robert Dick ('Points Encountered'). So this is more like a one man effort to bring to attention largely unrecognized innovators drawn mainly from Canadian jazz and teachers at Rutgers University, where Ralph Bowen himself now teaches. It's what you might describe as a bottom-up approach in contrast to Chris Potter's top-down take on the development of the music.

Influences aside, the jazz on 'Due Reverence' is very strong indeed. The same world class band that appeared on 'Dedicated ' - Ralph Bowen (tenor sax), Sean Jones (trumpet), Adam Rogers (guitar), John Patitucci (bass) and Antonio Sanchez (drums) – is retained again here, with the constraint that Sean Jones is featured on only one track, 'Mr Scott'.

Indeed, the eleven minute piece 'Mr Scott' is the stand out track on the album. The Tom Harrell influenced theme, played on harmonized sax and trumpet, gives way to involving and lucid soloing from each member of this impressive band, delivered over a loose and flowing backing in which Antonio Sanchez's asymmetric drumming, John Patitucci's intelligent bass lines and Adam Roger's now restrained guitar work all shine. You get the strong feeling that each of the musicians in this lineup is starting to develop a deep understanding of the other.

'Less Is More', the opener, starts in subdued classical vein with acoustic guitar and bowed bass before opening out into a likeable subdued piece with a gentle latin rhythm. Ralph Bowen leads without showboating on a tight tenor sax solo ahead of a nicely pitched guitar solo from Adam Rogers. It is noticeable how his guitar paying has changed in recent years – from the upfront complexity of his own albums as leader for Criss Cross ('Allegory', 'Apparitions') to a more subdued and perceptive mainstream approach. Throughout the album he is impressive as accompanist (with fine judged chords that at times evoke a Fender Rhodes sound) and in providing deep and involving solos.

'Phil-osophy' is a similarly pitched piece with the latin influence replaced with a more straight ahead, swinging beat.

'This One's For Bob' shifts the tempo up a notch as a vehicle for impressive, quick fire soling from Ralph Bowen and then Adam Rogers. Exhilarating.

The closing track 'Points Encountered' is a tribute to Robert Dick, a flautist who is credited with pioneering breathing techniques to improve wind instrument playing. Ralph Bowen's sax playing certainly is impressive. But in the art of breathing, you have to wonder where Rahsaan Roland Kirk comes into this story. There is a well aimed arco bass solo from John Patitucci that is another highlight.

Overall, this is very fine mainstream jazz and is highly recommended.

Check out the MP3 download at amazon. Not only is the album available at a very competitive price in that form, but you also get a bonus track that is not available on the CD – the title track 'Due Reverence', a lyrical unaccompanied tenor sax piece.

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 Ralph Bowen: Due Reverence cover

Related reviews:

Ralph Bowen - Dedicated

Chris Potter - Gratitude

Ralph Bowen home page

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