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Live at Yoshis by Steve Heckman Quartet

Live at Yoshi's, recorded in late 2001 at the famed Oakland jazz club, is one of two very different recently released quartet dates featuring Bay Area saxophonist Steve Heckman. Whereas The San Francisco ChamberJazz Quartet's SFCJQ is a decorous and cerebral affair that finds Heckman mainly playing the soprano, Live at Yoshi's is a hearty, ballad heavy date with Heckman primarily focusing on his tenor. The Steve Heckman Quartet here is rounded out by Matt Clark on piano, bassist Karen Horner and Jemal Ramirez on drums.

Heckman, like many contemporary saxophonists, names John Coltrane as his biggest influence. The first three songs of this collection were all recorded by Trane, with the first two (Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes" and his own "Equinox") being associated with him especially closely. So, I suppose some comparison with the master is fairly begged. Heckman's ballad sound is similarly full, warm and clear. His overall style is not marked by the relentless probing that defined Coltrane, but Heckman does apply somewhat the sheets of sound technique to his original compositions such as "Deomde."

In the rhythm section, Horner and Ramirez serve mostly as timekeepers, while Clark at times makes things interesting. Clark's playing on "Equinox" is particularly fascinating, managing to bring a sprightly quality to the piece while still respecting its ultimate meditativeness. Overall, it's a nice collection. The Steve Heckman Quartet radiates a real sense of warmth on Live at Yoshi's.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Steve Heckman Quartet
  • CD Title: Live at Yoshis
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: World City Music
  • Rating: Three Stars
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