Sam Newsome's The Art Of The Soprano, Vol. 1

Submitted By BrianHarrell1
Words: 339
Pages: 2

Sam Newsome's The Art of the Soprano, Vol. 1 is a solo soprano saxophone outing, while not unprecedented—Steve Lacy and Evan Parker have done this before—it certainly is unusual. The straight horn all alone: no bass, no drums, no piano or guitar. Sounds lonely, and a little too sonically spare.

But no one has gone deeper into solo soprano than Newsome. The saxophonist, who honed his artist chops in Trumpeter Terence Blanchard's groups on tenor sax in the early 1990s, switched to the straight horn in 1996. He has become a pioneering voice on the instrument. His second solo recording, Blue Soliloquy (Self Published, 2009) met with a wide critical acclaim. Art of the soprano, vol. 1 is even better, with its focus on three separate suites, and the increased use of Newsome's incorporation of a variety of unusual techniques, including multiphonics, the ringingly percussive "slap tonguing," circular breathing, Middle Eastern lines, and the blowing of the horn onto the strings of a piano to create long, subtle sustaining tones that act as a sort of enhanced silence behind the Soprano sound.

The three suites are saxophone legend John Coltrane's “A Love Supreme” (Impulse!, 1965) (and it takes some nerve to tackle that one); a three-tune Duke Ellington medley; and Newsome's own Soprano de Africana. Newsome wisely shuffled the sections of the suites, beginning with Ellington's In a Mellow Tone, moving into his haunting Burkino Faso, from Soprano de Africana, then to "Part 1" of