AdamKolker cover web

Album: Lost
Label: Sunnyside
Vertrieb: Rough Trade Distribution
VÖ: 25. September 2020


ADAM KOLKER tenor & soprano saxophones​


​Ugonna Okegwo bass​



Der Titel der neuen Aufnahme des Saxophonisten / Komponisten Adam Kolker, Lost, stammt von einer Komposition des legendären Wayne Shorter, einem offensichtlichen Meister der nachdenklichen Absicht und des unzeitgemäßen Ausdrucks. Kolker hat versucht, eine ähnliche Ästhetik in seiner eigenen Arbeit zu finden, und hat dies bei seiner neuen Aufnahme erreicht, die ihn in Begleitung eines Ensembles von Freunden findet, die fantastische, explorative Musik ohne Ego machen.


Kolkers ursprüngliches Konzept für diese Aufnahme war, dass es sich um eine Sammlung von Shorters Stücken handelt. Aber im Laufe der Zeit erkannte Kolker, dass alles, was er schreibt oder spielt, Shorters Einfluss als Inspiration nutzt. Shorter war einer der Hauptinnovatoren der modalen harmonischen Revolution, die durch die Verwendung bestimmter Modi Stimmungen und Spannungen hervorrief. Diese Erkenntnis befreite die Aufzeichnung konzeptioneller Einschränkungen und ermöglichte eine breitere Ausdrucksweise des außergewöhnlichen Ensembles, das Kolker zusammengestellt hatte.


The Time of the Barracudas (General Assembly) | Flips | Darn That Dream | Lost | While My Lady Sleeps | Hidden Treasure | Dance Cadaverous


There is a transcendental place that musicians can reach during performance. A space where they get lost in the music, letting the years honed skills and natural inclination take control. Many of the exhilarating moments in improvised music come from the sudden shift, the accentuation of razor sharp focus, to get back on course.

The title of saxophonist/composer Adam Kolker’s new recording, Lost, comes from a composition by the legendary Wayne Shorter, an obvious master of thoughtful intention and extemporaneous expression. Kolker has sought to find a similar esthetic in his own work and has achieved that on his new recording that finds him in the company of an ensemble of friends, making fantastic, explorative music without ego. 


The Philadelphia raised, Brooklyn based Kolker has found himself amongst many of the greats over his three-decade career. At home in any context, he can be heard playing a multitude of reeds with musicians as diverse as Ray Barretto, Fred Hersch, Maria Schneider and John Abercrombie. Kolker’s understated approach belies his brilliance as an improviser, leader and technician.


Kolker’s initial concept for this recording was for it to be a collection of Shorter’s pieces. But as time went by, Kolker realized that everything that he writes or plays utilizes Shorter’s influence as inspiration; Shorter was one of the main innovators of the modal harmonic revolution, which brought on moods and tensions being generated by the use of certain modes. This realization freed the recording of conceptual restrictions and allowed for a broader array of expression from the exceptional ensemble that Kolker put together. 


The quartet that was assembled includes longtime collaborators and friends, all equal in making this remarkably communicative music. Pianist Bruce Barth has been a sounding board both on and off the concert stage, his ease and wit fitting easily alongside Kolker. Bassist Ugonna Okegwo remains one of the steadiest timekeepers and most powerful accompanists. Drummer Billy Hart is remarkable on every level, bringing energy and an air of professionalism to everything he does. 


The quartet of Kolker, Barth, Okegwo and Hart were able to play these pieces, apart from two Kolker originals, in performance and rehearsals leading to the recording date. As their relationships have been blossoming for decades, no guidance was needed, as they were all on the same page. Hart was particularly instrumental to the compositional development as he accentuated the music by doing something unsolicited (but brilliant) every time they played a piece, enhancing the quality of the ensemble’s performance. 


The recording was made on December 21, 2019 at Christopher Sulit’s Trading 8s Recording Studio in Paramus, New Jersey. The results are timeless, a quartet of simpatico conceptualists coming together playing pieces fluidly, in a floating quality akin to the Miles Davis group of the early 1960s. 


The recording begins with an update to Shorter’s take on Gil Evan’s “The Time of the Barracudas,” a piece lending itself well to the group’s non-confining approach to freedom of expression over a modal landscape. Kolker’s “Flips” follows as a kind of jumbled version of Monk’s “Evidence”; the chord and rhythm changes owe some influence to Ornette Coleman’s Harmolodic ideas. Kolker’s arrangement of Van Heusen and DeLange’s classic, “Darn That Dream,” evolved as he wrote a tune that turned into this delicate reharmonization. The title track is one of Kolker’s favorites by Shorter, a perfect encapsulation of the composer’s depth as a writer and his ability to transmit more than what is notated, most notably through the hidden links between harmonies and chords. 


 Kaper and Kahn’s iconic “While My Lady Sleeps” proved to be a perfect vehicle of modal improvisational exploration for both John Coltrane and Shorter, brilliantly rearranged by Kolker the night before the session for this dramatic, prescient take. The stylishly swinging “Hidden Treasure” is an older piece by the leader, the piece was built around the vamp and its rhythmic counterpoint. For the recording’s conclusion, Kolker and company approached Shorter’s “Dance Cadaverous” with a broader pulse, allowing a more open and flowing approach.


Sometimes, it is the music without an agenda that can affect one the most. Adam Kolker has brought together an incredible ensemble to pursue the beauty in the unknown on his new recording, Lost.


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