52 Jazz Tracks for 2021. 46. ‘Mighty Lights’ – Jane Ira Bloom, Mighty Lights, 1983

The 46th of Jon Turney’s weekly selections is an early landmark from a great soprano saxophone exponent.

Jane Ira Bloom is a brilliant player and composer who has never, to my mind, quite had the attention her work deserves. Like Martial Solal, who featured here weeks back, that’s maybe because she doesn’t really sound like anyone else.

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Her soprano saxophone sound might put one in mind occasionally of Sam Rivers or Anthony Braxton, but really her slightly dry, keening tone and serpentine facility is uniquely hers. Her sound has matured and deepened since this early offering, like a wine in oak barrels, but still has a lightness-with-gravitas that combines abstract beauty with emotional heft.

Fred Hersch was on this session – the start of a very fruitful collaboration with the pianist – but this trio track has just Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell on what now seems a typical Bloom composition. She has always kept good company, as with her current favoured rhythm partners Mark Helias and Bobby Previte. Here, as on more recent recordings like the wonderful Early Americans from 2016, she is writing for the whole trio, allowing the soprano sound to bed down in the rhythm like a well-set jewel.

Hear the track on Spotify

More on this recording on Jon’s Bristol Jazz Log

Read Jon’s introduction to the ’52 tracks’ series

Week 45. Moon – William Parker Quartet

Spotify playlist for the series

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