Canadian tenor saxophonist Michael Adkins has called New York City his home since 1998, after two stints at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. In turn, the artist honed his craft into an identifiable voice, outwardly evident here, with this superb 2008 quartet date.
Adkins shines as a shrewd composer within the context of these loose groove but cohesively structured arrangements. Drumming great Paul Motian wields his magic hands by staying on top of the beat amid his customary cymbal shading propensities. Chalk it up to the band’s seamless execution of largely, medium-tempo bop vamps, where Adkins’ deep and penetrating tenor lines provide a near flawless vehicle for group-centric improvisation.
The saxophonist often reaffirms a given melody as he weaves in and out of pianist Ross Lossing’s fluent and highly rhythmic phrasings. Check out the piece titled "Pearl 21," where Adkins commandeers a fractured mid-tempo flow, all contrasted by Lossing’s avant-bop runs and cascading chord clusters. Nonetheless, the quartet tells a story throughout via sinuously devised phrasings and contrasting hues and they lick it into high-gear during the pulsating, "Encrypted."
Sure enough, Adkins is one to watch. This album looms as one of those unanticipated surprises of the year. It’s modern jazz with a distinct flair, all enamored by the instrumentalists’ deeply personalized stylistic attributes.