Fluent in both saxophone and the great language of bebop, Greg Abate has done nothing if not worked tirelessly across five decades to keep the flame of classic jazz lit. In the hands of a skilled musician like Abate - who made his new record, Road to Forever, with Tim Ray’s trusty trio featuring Ray, John Lockwood and Mark Walker - life and music intertwine on his saxophone. The sound of his brass is an extension of his heart, with no filter or contrivance. Abate’s emotions emerge in nearly every note. “I relate music to life as a parallel outlook,” says Abate in the liner notes of his new recording.
“Like many artists, life and music are working together in us to bring out creative ideas.” In fact, there are creative ideas across all of Road to Forever. “The Dancing Panda” has an agile, danceable groove and a slinky, sexy chord progression. “Farewell Phil Woods” is dedicated to Abate’s inimitable bandmate and collaborator, a talent the bandleader calls “a force of nature.” Abate’s alto sax, laid lightly atop Ray’s piano, resonates with a deep melancholia. But the blue mood is fleeting, as the next track, “Whaling City Sound,” boasts a chill, electric fusion of keys and bass that lifts the tempo with the trio’s inventive ideas. Abate is a musician that is born to play, to create, to collaborate. He is the consummate sharer of the stage, who respects talent and ability and knows that a high tide lifts all boats.
Indeed, Ray, Walker, and Lockwood elevate every project, and Abate provides them with a slate of perfect, largely straight-ahead, compositions for them to dig into. Recorded in a single session with virtually no rehearsals, Road to Forever is as pure as it gets, and a tribute to the power and glory of real bebop.
01. Road to Forever 8:06
02. City of 2-5's 5:39
03. The Dancing Panda 7:07
04. Take the Crowell Train 5:00
05. Farewell Phil Woods 8:26
06. Whaling City Sound 7:05
07. Red Fish Boulevard 5:46
08. Seasons 6:50
09. Buzzardology 6:56
10. Mr. Parker 7:44
Greg Abate, alto & tenor sax, flute
Tim Ray, piano
John Lockwood, acoustic bass, electric bass
Mark Walker, drums and percussion