A good point guard on the basketball court elevates the players around him and makes them better players. That’s just what jazz saxophonist, flutist, and composer Greg Abate does on his latest release Motif and as a result the album is currently among the most added albums on the JazzWeek Chart and I look forward to tracking its upward movement on the chart, over the coming weeks! It doesn’t hurt though, that the other members of his quartet are, like Greg professors at the Berklee College Music, even so, on the album Greg’s compositions give each member of the quartet room to “do their thing” and boy do they know how to do it!! The first time I listened to the album I thought that the leader of the band could be the piano player Tim Ray, because he stood out so much through the first couple of tracks. But then Greg’s great sounding sax kicked in and a few tracks later his flute appeared and I knew who the leader was!
Scott Yanow at AllMusic calls Abate “A superior bop player who finally emerged on records as a leader in the 1990s”. After graduating from Berklee College of Music, Abate started his musical career replacing David “Fathead” Newman in the Ray Charles Orchestra in 1973. He also played with the Artie Shaw Band from 1985 to 1987. Since 1991 Abate has released fourteen albums as a leader. In addition to alto sax, which is his primary instrument Abate also plays tenor and soprano sax and flute. Abate cites Charlie Parker, Paul Desmond, and Phil Woods as his main influences, and I think he does them proud!!
The Greg Abate Quartet is composed of the afore-mentioned Tim Ray on piano, JohnLockwood on bass, and Mark Walker on drums. As I said previously all four of the members of the quartet are members of the faculty at Berklee College of Music and are master of their respective instruments. I did listen to a few tracks from Tim Ray’s album On My Own:Volume 1, yesterday and loved what I heard!!
Bottomline: Motif is an album very worthy of checking out and would make an excellent addition to any jazz music collection!! Grade: A
Here’s a playlist of a few tracks from Motif – Check it Out!