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Alto Saxophonist Hayden Chisholm Leads Drummerless Trio on 'Breve,' Pirouet Records (REVIEW)

By Mike Greenblatt m.greenblatt@classicalite.com on Dec 21, 2015 11:49 AM EST

Some of the most adventurous new jazz these days seems to be coming from Germany's Pirouet Records. Case in point is Breve by altoist Hayden Chisholm, 40. His trio, also named Breve, with British pianist John Taylor and fellow New Zealander bassist Matt Penman, eschews drums for a more flowing sound not led by the dictates of percussion pushing the sound into regimented time signatures. Here, the musicians are free to flow and do so in strange, serene and captivating ways. (Taylor died just weeks after the release of this CD.)

It would be an understatement to say that Chisholm has the kind of tone most saxophone players would give their eyetooth for. Lyrical, swinging, syncopated, it fills the mix with a compelling mixture of bravado and laid-back sensuousness. He's obviously studied the great American masters.

Breve means the longest note in notated music (a double whole note). Ten to one Chisholm can hold his breath under water longer than you or I. His sense of humor is evident on "Tinkerbell Swing" (for the famous Peter Pan faerie). He also likes to waltz. Two of the nine originals are such. Then there's his penchant for converting his beloved classical music into jazz (easier to do with no drums). Although you won't hear it on Breve, Chisholm also plays soprano sax, clarinet, melodica and the shruti box (a distant cousin of the harmonium used in Indian music).

This is his first studio endeavor following a 2014 live CD (Breve Live at Plush) and a 2013 13-CD live boxed set (Views of the Heart's Cargo). Between its waltzes, classical flourishes, swing and intricately fine interplay as sensitive as a spider web, Breve sounds like nothing else out there.

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TagsHayden Chisholm, REVIEW, Pirouet Records, John Taylor, Matt Penman