Monday, January 10, 2011

Review: Michael Pagán- 12 Preludes & Fugues

Stream of Michael Pagán's Fugue 12 at YouTube

My introduction to saxophone quartets was The Real Deal by Bobby Watson's 29th Street Saxophone Quartet. The raucous swing of the 1987 album led me to investigate the The World Saxophone Quartet. The ensemble's stunning creativity exposed me to new musical vistas.

Even so, I probably wouldn't have appreciated 12 Preludes & Fugues while I was still in my twenties. Listening to the Colorado Saxophone Quartet perform compositions by Kansas City transplant Michael Pagán offers a sublime experience that will most readily resonate with more mature audiences.

More Bach and Beethoven than Basie and Ellington, the album belongs in a classical music bin. The four musicians occasionally improvise, but Pagán's compositions are carefully structured. Yet the recording projects an engaging human element that makes 12 Preludes & Fugues anything but an academic exercise.

Although I've seen him perform as a pianist and bandleader a handful of times, I haven't heard any of Pagán's other recordings. Listening to the album without any preconceived expectations has allowed me to enjoy it on its own terms.

Adventurous jazz fans shouldn't let the generic album art, Pagán's dry liner notes and absence of traditional song titles put them off. The form of 12 Preludes & Fugues may be classical, but at the core of the project is a jazz soul.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've had the pleasure of pouring over Michael's score while listening to his sax quartets... great "third stream" inspired composition.