World Saxophone Quartet: Take the A Train (1986)

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World Saxophone Quartet: Take the A Train (1986)

One of the most innovative and sometimes daring jazz groups around, World Saxophone Quartet was an implosion of individual talents: Julius Hemphill (alto), Oliver Lake (alto), David Murray (tenor) and Hamiet Bluiett (baritone).

Each of them had come into jazz from an angle of post-bop and often free playing, and their subsequent careers took them in very different directions again, notably Lake who recorded some reggae-influenced, almost jazz-pop albums in the Eighties.

And for their album World Saxophone Plays Duke Ellington, from which this is lifted, they paid a distinctive tribute to one of the jazz greats.

But even in this piece, a miniature masterpiece of layered lines and ensemble playing, you can hear those free elements coming through.

Hard to believe also, but a version of the WSQ (with others sitting in for Hemplill who left due to illness and died in '95) is still sometimes performing today, almost 35 years after they first formed.

And check out who they are playing in the clip below. 

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

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