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Sam Newsome

The Art of the Soprano Vol. 1

(Sam Newsome; US: 25 Sep 2012; UK: Import)

One voice in the wilderness

The soprano saxophone is one of the most expressive modern jazz instruments. What it lacks in fullness of tone, it more than makes up for in its emotionality. Sam Newsome takes advantage of this on his solo soprano offering. He uses a variety of inventive techniques including circular breathing, multiphonics, and slap-tongue percussive effects, to create haunting supplications as some kind of instinctual plea for being nakedly human. It’s not the sound of one hand clapping so much as one voice in the wilderness declaring its humanity. While this may seem embedded in the DNA of a tune like John Coltrane’s mantra-like “A Love Supreme”, it can also be found in unexpected places, such as Newsome’s renditions of Duke Ellington’s “In a Mellow Tone” and “In a Sentimental Mood”. The soprano player is consistently inventive and concerned with beauty. On the four African-inspired tracks, especially “Zulu Witch Doctor”, Newsome takes the listener on treks that make the Twilight Zone seem like the natural world in which we live and where exotic scenery can be found inside the heart. To call this picturesque would be a metaphorical understatement. It captures all the senses.


Steven Horowitz has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa, where he continues to teach a three-credit online course on "Rock and Roll in America". He has written for many different popular and academic publications including American Music, Paste and the Icon. Horowitz is a firm believer in Paul Goodman's neofunctional perspective on culture and that Sam Cooke was right, a change is gonna come.

Sam Newsome - A Love Supreme (Pursuance)
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