Solo saxophone albums aren’t as plentiful as, say, solo piano or guitar albums. As such, they are special. Yet no amount of listening to Anthony Braxton’s For Alto, Ken Vandermark’s Furniture Music or any of David S. Ware’s recent solo excursions could prepare me for the unaccompanied debut of Little Women member Travis Laplante. Heart Protector is a masterpiece that stands out in an already selective field, one that celebrates the creepy noises and spaces between the notes on a saxophone and creates a texture that owes more to Eno than Ewart. Laplante’s use of overtones on “The Great Mother” comes eerily close to providing the ever-compelling IV-vi pattern and “Five Patterns” shows us what Charlemagne Palestine knew all along; when you trill fast, lots of extraordinary things can happen. With an attractive digipak case and a mere 30 minutes of music inside, Heart Protector is one of 2011’s best.
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