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Jane Ira Bloom - Early Americans / Buffalo News review

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Here is the latest great record from a truly great jazz relationship that has been going on for many decades. Soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom – one of the most distinctive players in all of jazz – has been playing with bassist Mark Helias since the 1970s. Her work with Western New York-bred drummer/composer Bobby Previte has produced phenomenal music since 2000. This is Bloom's first trio record and it's reminiscent in its magical use of musical space to some of the trio music recorded by various different configurations called The Jimmy Giuffre Three. Except for a magnificent, haunting solo soprano saxophone aria of Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere" (a Jane Ira Bloom specialty) all of the compositions are Bloom's own. The interplay of the three musicians who know each other so well is on the level of some of the greatest intimate configurations in the history of jazz – the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Giuffre Threes of both the'50s and very early '60s, the Dave Brubeck Quartet with Paul Desmond, The long-standing "Standards Trio" of Keith Jarrett. Previte, especially, is an amazingly imaginative accompaniment to Bloom. But then he's always been as much "percussionist" as drummer, ever since studying at UB with Jan Williams. Kenny Wheeler, the late Canadian/British trumpet player with the unique tone, is remembered in a tune called "Nearly." We're not told whom "Big Bill" is dedicated to (Broonzy?) but whoever it is, it's the kind of insinuating, simple tune that can go through listeners' heads for days. And what she, Previte and Helias do with it is marked by a thrilling unity of purpose that is like little else you'll hear in jazz these days. Truth to tell it was never very common. One of the great jazz records of the year thus far. Four stars out of four. 

Jane Ira Bloom with Mark Helias and Bobby Previte "Early Americans" (Outline, released next week)  (Jeff Simon)

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