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Saxophonist Ben Schachter, in a quartet featuring iconic pianist Mike Wofford, NYC bassist Leon Boykins and Philadelphia drummer Matt Scarano delivered a blistering set of modern improvised music on March 12, at KSDS Jazz Live, for a sold-out house at the Saville Theatre.

Billed as a Tribute to Monk & 'Trane, most of the music was culled from the 1957 collaboration between the two legendary architects of jazz as we know it.

Opening with a dark, elliptical arrangement of "Epistrophy," Schachter burst out of the gates in full gallop--running trilled scales that paused for sculpted multiphonics while Wofford channeled his inner Alice Coltrane with rhapsodic arpeggios.

A neat idea of having a drum solo transition into the next tune was severely weakened by sound-system issues--which found each drum beat accompanied by incessant feedback. Somehow, Scarano got through it and his insistent rim-shot chatter provided "Criss Cross," with an ebullient groove.

Boykins took a deep, resonant bass solo that evoked the deliberations of both Charlie Haden and Jimmy Garrison, one of the sonic highlights of the evening.

Wofford's rhythmically precise and harmonically daring piano spurred Schachter's fiery exploration of "Body & Soul," tearing through the changes while maintaining a gorgeous sound even when mayhem was just around the corner. The pianist responded in kind--rippling ideas with power and touch.

"Monk's Mood," revealed a tender side of the hornman, as Schachter's breathy tenor purred languid curlicues--and, "In Walked Bud," rocketed with kinetic energy that birthed a fantastic drum solo from Scarano.

The evening concluded with Coltrane's "Giant Steps," taken as a waltz, drawing sterling contributions from all.

Photo: Wofford & Shachter by Thomas Westerlin

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