review

Seductive Sax: Joe Leader, www.joeleader.com £7.49

This review was published on: December 17th 2013
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This CD, recorded live at The Pheasantry Jazz Club in London last year, is an un-ashamedly “pop” production featuring Joe with a support group (electric guitar, electric bass, a battery of keyboards and drums) plus the almost obligatory trio of backing vocalists. Not, I suspect, the normal ear-fare of our typical readership, but the sort of music which introduces the saxophone to hundreds, if not hundreds of thousands, at music festivals around the world. Style-wise Joe is quite similar to the American saxophonist Grover Washington but our subject insists on 'electronically conditioning' his sound which made it very difficult for me to be sure what sax he was using – his is what I can only describe as a strangled noise. Most of the tracks carry his soprano and perhaps two of the later ones are alto.

From the title I expected to hear sultry ballads and lush backings but what I got was largely (danceable) pop-rock with an overlay of pop-jazz fusion. The problem is that the jazz bit is not particularly impressive and the vocal bits seem superfluous. That is not to say it is a bad disc- the bass guitarist is quite superb and the synth/keyboard player is excellent- there are, unfortunately too few moments where truly beautiful soundscapes emanate from the electronic kit and when they do the effect is stunning. I would love to hear Joe on un-conditioned sax with the synth player let loose on some standards.

Over 9 tracks lasting 63 minutes the group delivers three well known songs (Just the Two of Us, Nature Boy and Isn't She Lovely) and six probable originals. There is very little information on the disc's paper sleeve so I can't be more informative – indeed the leader introduces the backing group names over the last track as they solo but the clarity of his speech is too poor for me to pass details on to you. I can however say that the guitarist is probably called Miles Kane and that he can do the George Benson trick of co-improvising and scat singing better than George!

In summary: a style of saxophony that will never win competitions but will “Make loads 'a money”

Kenneth Morris

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The Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britain is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No. 3010228, whose registered office is at 48 Henniker Point, Leytonstone Road, London, E15 1LQ. Email: finance (@) cassgb.org. Tel: 0845 644 0187

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