This is a good year for Colorado tenor saxophonist and composer Fred Hess -- and for jazz fans who appreciate harmonically adventurous cutting-edge music, impeccably played. Hess is releasing two new CDs on the Tapestry label this month -- one recorded during a piano-less quartet date in Rochester, New York, called Extended Family; and an eleven-tune duet with Denver pianist Marc Sabatella, titled Right at Home. Interestingly, the CDs have two Hess originals in common, and the divergent interpretations are a tribute to the versatility of a musician whose influences include everything from bebop to Joe Lovano to quantum physics.
Hess and Sabatella will perform a free CD-release concert on Saturday, February 2, at St. Cajetan's on the Auraria campus, with bassist Ken Walker, drummer Tim Sullivan and trumpeter Ron Miles (whose 2002 CD with guitarist Bill Frisell, Heaven, earned top honors from dozens of national jazz critics).
In 2000, Hess won the prestigious Julius Hemphill Award for Jazz Composition, and he continues to draw from a wide range of idioms. "I feel that the 21st-century player can use the entire history of jazz as his primer," he says, "...from Louis Armstrong through and past the post-modern Knitting Factory players."
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