Jure Pukl – Doubtless
(Whirlwind WR4724 . CD Review by Jon Turney)
A fascinating study in modern tenor saxophone here, as New York based Slovenian Jure Pukl is joined by his wife, Chilean star Melissa Aldana. Both have a sweeping command of jazz vocabulary, and – as befits a couple – their sound and line are so compatible this could easily be a recording overdubbed by a single player.
Indeed, the first three tracks here all begin with two saxes, unaccompanied. It wasn’t necessarily planned that way – it was just how they felt on the day, in a session laid down in a Slovenian studio last year in just three hours. The two improvise freely together at the start of the title track, then share the theme as understated bass and drums kick in. On Doves, they play a perfect unison while on the lesser-known Ornette Coleman tune Intersong they stretch the characteristically sweet-sour melody elastically between them.
The two have a similar, clean tenor tone, and it is pretty much impossible to say who plays when, save for a single bass duo track, Where Are You Coming From? and one trio, where Aldana is silent. It matters not: the point is that they are inspiring each other, musical ideas building in a like-minded exchange that is a pleasure to share.
Several of the pieces were written during a spell when Pukl’s mother was gravely ill, but the mood overall is positive, even affirmative. Bassist Joe Sanders – not known to me but what a big sound – leads as well as follows, and contributes the sprightly Elioté for the quartet. Gregory Hutchinson on drums is as endlessly fluent, in his way, as the two saxophonists.
This is a touring band, still developing, and there are longer and sometimes wilder improvisational flights in their live shows (you can check them out at the Bimhuis earlier this year). But this studio session captures something special from two players who began life a continent apart but have come together through the music that continues to inspire new artistic careers of the first rank, it seems, absolutely everywhere.