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Album review: 'Six of One'


The David Berkman Sextet

'Six of One'

Palmetto Records

There's an apt quote from pianist David Berkman's wife in the liner notes for his new album "Six of One." She compares the music to a "scramble intersection," a six-way pedestrian crossing in her native Japan. Organized chaos is a wonderful metaphor for the bold interaction here. Since arriving in New York in 1985, David Berkman has worked with Tom Harrell, Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas and many others. On "Six of One," he enlists four top saxophonists -- Dayna Stephens, Adam Kolker, Billy Drewes, and Tim Armacost -- along with bassist Chris Lightcap, drummer Kenneth Salters, and percussionist Rogerio Boccato.

The best "scramble intersections" here can be found in "Cynical Episode" and "Kickstopper," when two of the saxophonists take disparate solos simultaneously, setting up a wild improvisational counterpoint that works beautifully. The album showcases Berkman's excellent keyboard playing and superb solos from all of the players, but it's ultimately Berkman's distinctive compositions and arrangements that steal the show.