John O'Gallagher (as, ss), Tony Malaby (ts, ss), John Hebert (b), Jeff Williams (d)
Bar code: 8427328422116
John O'Gallagher currently leads two groups: Axiom (with Tony Malaby, John Hebert and Jeff Williams) and The Open Door Trio (with Johannes Weidenmueller and Jeff Hirshfield). His anterior work with "Axiom" was picked as one of the sixteen top CDs released in 2002 by "All About Jazz". "Line of Sight" is his last work with his quartet.
"John's music on the CD is a very hip classical music, in a way; since the bass and drums are playing more written functions. John and Tony play beautifully; separately, and together. And the whole conception of his composing is very special."
- Lee Konitz
"Like his previous release, Abacus, alto saxophonist John OGallagher pursues a cerebral blend of free exploration over a foundation of structured composition on Line of Sight, his second recording with his group Axiom. OGallagher and his quartet tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby, bassist John Hebert and drummer Jeff Williams navigate their way through charts that may impose strict form, but still manage to sound loose and unforced.
With a two-saxophone line-up and no chordal instrument on board, OGallagher relies on harmonies implicit and explicit, through the contrapuntal interweaving of the horns and bass. OGallagher has cited fellow alto player Steve Coleman as a significant influence. If there was one person who has found new territory in modern jazz, it's been himhis harmonic vocabulary and melodic vocabulary definitely derive from all the things that I'm interested in as far as Bartok, and modern conceptions about harmony and gravity of pitches and things. But while Coleman can sometimes appear a tad mathematical, and OGallaghers strong inner logic in combining advanced rhythmic and harmonic ideas is unassailable, OGallaghers compositions seem to breathe more. As clearly considered as they are, they retain a vivid sense of adventure.
Thats not to say OGallaghers melodic conception is easy or obvious, but as abstruse as he can sometimes be, hes also capable of a rare and unusual lyricism. Cascade and Leona both feature graceful intertwining of alto and tenor, with the former revolving around a challenging rhythmic concept, and the latter a delicate rubato piece where everyone seems magically attuned to OGallaghers lead. And Effluence features something of an OGallagher signature, where the two horns and bass play the initial theme seemingly a note apart, creating an oddly unbalanced feeling.
With an almost classical rigour when it comes to Hebert and Williams maintaining the largely odd-metered pieces, theres still plenty of room for interpretation within its more rigid confines. Pieces are largely centred on rhythmic patterns that demand certain emphases and pulses. But while the rhythm sections role is more stringent, OGallagher leaves both Hebert and Williams opportunities for greater freedom, with Williams delivering a strong melodic solo on the graceful Cubist, and Heberts solo on the equally elegant Effluence being the height of understatement.
As challenging as OGallaghers music is, theres an underlying subtle expressiveness that makes even the most oblique of compositions easy to absorb. And while music like OGallaghers risks being almost too intellectual, with compelling soloists like Malaby and OGallagher both players who have been gaining ever stronger reputations as improvisers with broad reaches theres plenty of emotional depth as well
Line of Sight continues to develop OGallaghers unique compositional vision, one that combines heady melodic ideas, oddly-constructed rhythms and unfettered improvisation into a precise whole that reveals more with each listen."
- John Kelman, All About Jazz
"Comparison can be useful in a review. In the case of John OGallaghers Line of Sight, there was something familiar, composition-wise, I just couldnt put my finger on.
My first point of reference was Herbie Hancocks Maiden Voyage so I listened to the two albums back to back. The fact that OGallaghers music can be played in the company of such classics says quite a lot. There is a similar vibe in the way the tunes swell and flex, but OGallagher is hardly ripping anybody off (a lot of artistic inspiration flows from the same source, anyhow). Other influences also seemed apparent, Lee Konitz and Ornette Coleman amongst them. OGallagher is a powerful alto and tenor sax man and he interacts well with Tony Malaby (tenor and soprano saxes). The two stake out ample solo territory within the leaders eight original compositions without getting in each others way or devolving into cutting sessions. John Herbert (bass) and Jeff Williams (drums) are both excellent as well."
- Rico Cleffi, All About Jazz.
"John O'Gallagher's latest album sounds focused on a narrow band of sound, in that the compositions are all built around an interval of a fourth, with a series of syncopations appearing in each line. These similar-sounding building blocks are then taken apart, reassembled, and subjected to an astonishing variety of treatments, so that through differences in tempo, time signature, and rhythmic emphasis, Line Of Sight takes on an impressive variety.
With Tony Malaby, O'Gallagher has found an ideal partner. O'Gallagher plays alto with a dry lyricism and he isn't afraid to let his lines breathe. Malaby plays tenor with a huge, sometimes brusque sound. He loves to dig in and swing, and he's not afraid to jump into upper register harmonics. On Cubist, where his sound is momentarily indistinguishable from O'Gallagher's, Malaby's use of the high end makes for a stunning entrance. Elsewhere, Malaby performs an aggressive dance on Unmode, with which O'Gallagher's thoughtful horn contrasts effectively. Revolving Doors features the horn men improvising collectively at a fast tempo, sometimes on paired soprano saxophones. O'Gallagher swings hard on this one.
Sometimes the saxophonists use sequential phrases, and sometimes the music takes on a mournful cast. At these moments the music sounds a bit like Ornette Coleman's quartet with Dewey Redman circa 1970, although I don't know if this was O'Gallagher's intention. The rhythm section on Line Of Sight is consistently responsive. There is much to hear on this album, as both O'Gallagher and Malaby continue to growand impress."
- Marc Meyers, All About Jazz
"John OGallagher repite la misma formación con la que ya en el 2002 obtuvo una muy buena aceptación entre la crítica con su anterior (y único) trabajo John OGallaghers Axiom (CIMP Records, 2002). La formación de por sí ya resulta curiosa: base rítmica de contrabajo y batería, y dos saxofones (en los que, además de alto y soprano, se repite el tenor).
La producción del disco es estupenda. Si mal no recuerdo, fue Miles Davis quien comentó que la presencia del contrabajo debía pasar desapercibida. No estoy en absoluto de acuerdo con este axioma, y lo cierto es que no es frecuente encontrar discos en los que la presencia del contrabajo es indiscutible. John Hebert va marcando constantemente el contrarritmo de los temas, seguido tan de cerca por los golpes desmembrados de la batería de Jeff Williams que ésta parece el eco metálico de la resonancia del contrabajo. El desarrollo de los temas es tonal en su mayor parte, recayendo la importancia de los mismos en el contraste entre ritmos y la búsqueda del diálogo (melódico) y la discusión (en forma de disonancia) entre los vientos. Algunos temas juegan a contrastar el tempo lento de la sección rítmica con cambios dinámicos en los saxos; otros, como Effluence, dejan espacios abiertos para la evolución del contrabajo; y no faltan los tempos rápidos, como Revolving Doors, con un vigoroso entrelazado de notas de alto y tenor; o el cierre estridente y rugoso del disco con el acertado nombre Rare Views.
El referente de actualidad más fácil de encontrar para esta grabación es el Boom Boom de Atomic. Con bastante menos potencial explosivo que el grupo nórdico, pero con la misma delicadeza y simultaneada estridencia del conjunto. Todas las melodías son sencillas, y el desarrollo de las mismas, bastante simple. Pero por encima de todo esto nos queda la impresión de estar escuchando a una banda de jazz tremendamente conjuntada y con un diálogo perfectamente sincronizado."
- Sergio Masferrer, www.tomajazz.com
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