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Review in the New York City Jazz Record

Aug 4 | Posted by: Robert Sabin

I'd like to thank Donald Elfman for the nice review of the album in the latest New York City Jazz Record, page 27. I'm glad he emphasized the invaluable contributions of John Yao and Chris Komer, two huge reasons this project happened!  Click here for the issue.


Bassist Robert Sabin has ability to make rich, deeply
colored and textured and affecting music from
seemingly dark places. His new disc does so with a
sense of orchestration indebted to the great Gil Evans.
This beautiful collection of six originals utilizes
the brass immediately in the title track opener, a fusion
of two Ennio Morricone themes from the 1982 movie
The Thing. It begins with a low drone-like effect out of
which comes a brighter theme as the whole band opens
out in a kind of shout quietly propelled by Jesse Lewis’
guitar. There’s a burry trombone solo by John Yao with
accents from the band and dazzling horn work from
Chris Komer. The band leads back into the darkness of
the opening.

Sabin has learned bold and striking orchestral
colors without using most of the standard tropes. A
stunning surprise is “Scarecrow”; instead of the stock
elements of horror film music, we get an icy
interpretation of the source material, Maurice Ravel’s
“Gaspard de la Nuit”. The music keeps the listener in
suspended animation yet leaves our imaginations free,
with the help of soloist Jason Rigby on tenor saxophone,
whose playing is expressive without being showy, and
Sabin’s use of silence as a vital element.
There are homages to unsettling images and
feelings from several directors. “Through a Glass
Darkly” honors the existential inquiries from Ingmar
Bergman, opening with Rigby brooding over the
orchestra. This unpredictable work has many intriguing
elements: melodies that are polyphonic in nature;
blending of major and minor tonalities; chorales and
incisive improvisations from drummer Jeremy Noller
and tuba player Ben Stapp. The latter’s extraordinary
tones, in fact, give extra color and dimension
throughout the album. “Tenebre” celebrates Italian
director Dario Argento, whose delicacy he echoes in
airy woodwinds. Sabin has created a gorgeous, ethereal
and thought-provoking new aural soundtrack.

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