The solo soprano sax player is consistently inventive and concerned with beauty.
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.