09 Kelly JeffersonRituals
Kelly Jefferson
Cellar Music CMR022023 (cellarlive.com)

When the Canadian JUNO-Award winning star of the saxophone – curved or straight – Kelly Jefferson decides to bare key moments in the past decade or so of his life it must be something special. When he plays the momentous music with a stellar trio of his peers – pianist Amanda Tosoff, bassist Jon Maharaj and drummer Morgan Childs, whose idiomatic interpretations mark this music – then the album of songs does, indeed, become something truly special. 

The title of the album – Rituals – suggests a rite of passage for Jefferson. Each of the nine charts marks the memory of a milestone that, as the lyric of the iconic Sam Cooke song suggests “a change is gonna come,” or in Jefferson’s case, a change did, in fact come. What these events were, are poured into deeply songful charts by the saxophonist. Each is suited to a particular horn – tenor, alto or soprano – and his playing will drive listeners, happily, into a state of frenzy. 

Whether it be Kindling, or No Time Like The Present, or even Dimmer Switch, each is suited to his alternating ultra-virtuosity and languor. With hallmark rapid crescendos and decrescendos, accelerandos or decelerandos, sometimes within a few bars, almost as if a grenade has been tossed into the saxophone, Jefferson announces his unique musical charisma to us, his rapt audience.  

Tosoff, Maharaj and Childs, fully attuned to Jefferson’s vision, remain inspired choices to bring this music to fruition.

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