By John Shand, The Sydney Morning Herald

A LIFE BETWEEN (Soundsabound) ★★★★

Perhaps it was inevitable that Chase Baird would be a jazz saxophonist, with his first name referencing a Coltrane tune (among others) and his second containing “bird”. But making this second album was not easy, with a little serendipity required before his pieces could be played by titans like pianist Brad Mehldau and drummer Antonio Sanchez. But here they are, and just as the initial blast of high-drama rock announces the album, the set as a whole announces Baird as a serious new voice, prepared to jar your senses or caress you; to set fire to the music or lead you to a place of stillness. Completed by guitarist Nir Felder and bassist Dan Chmielinski, the tenor saxophonist’s band sounds much more seasoned than the reality of having played the session on the back of one rehearsal. Amid the ferocity of some of the improvising and compositional ideas runs a stream of lushness and tenderness to draw out all Mehldau’s lyrical ardour, while Sanchez is like a French polisher, putting a high and deep sheen on the grooves. Sometimes, when Baird’s tenor keens like it’s baying at the moon, it reminds me of Jan Garbarek: a sound monstrous in size, yet desolate and lost in the landscape.

 

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