Saxophonist John Hagen has been in the modern jazz trenches over the years, performing and recording with the likes of bassist William Parker, saxophonist David Liebman and others. He’s led his own groups and also toured with Donald Fagen of Steely Dan fame. Nonetheless, he’s a talented artist yet not a well-known entity within global jazz circles. But credit must once gain be doled to out to the producers’ of this jazz-improvisation based record label. Essentially, they have this knack for finding and highlighting talented performers, often possessing a singular vision, and backed up with nth degrees of compositional acumen.
According to Hagen: "The Segments are melodic intervals used as places of departure and arrival in twelve of these improvisations." A major plus here, is the alignment of time-honored jazz musicians, drummer Gerry Hemingway and bassist Mark Dresser. Pianist Denman Maroney and others chip in for these works, primarily consisting of spacious phrasings riding atop asymmetrical rhythms and staggered free-bop lines. On this outing, Hagen performs on tenor, alto and soprano saxes, while demonstrating a consistent mode of attack throughout. His melodies are emphatically expressed amid some elements of grit, although he uses space as an equalizer to coincide with an animated approach. He’s not a dazzling or for that matter, overbearing technician by any stretch. And in some instances his melodic constructions might parallel some of Ornette Coleman’s pronouncements. However, Hagen transmits an ability to meld the freer scheme of matters with tangible themes, whether the band is engaging in microtonal passages or periods of frisky, stop-start type movements. Hagen has quite a bit to say, evidenced here during this most compelling effort. (Recommended.... )