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Album review: 'Uncharted Waters'

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Michael Rabinowitz

"Uncharted Waters"

Cats Paw Records

jazzbassoonist.com

Michael Rabinowitz's improvisations are bold; he glides effortlessly over, in, and around the changes on tunes like Duke Ellington's "Caravan," Wes Montgomery's "So Do It," Antonio Carlos Jobim's "How Insensitive," and several fine originals. But Rabinowitz isn't soaring on saxophone, flute, or trumpet. He plays the bassoon, and his mission is to expand the instrument's reach from its traditional classical confines to the world of jazz. Over the years, Rabinowitz has earned the respect of many top players: he's worked with Wynton Marsalis, Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano, and others.

On his appropriately titled new album, "Uncharted Waters," Rabinowitz is joined by three lesser-known but excellent musicians: Nat Harris on guitar, Ruslan Khain on bass, and Vincent Ector on drums. Harris is especially strong whenever he cuts loose on a solo. As for the sound of Rabinowitz's bassoon, it's got a nice, Sonny Rollins-like rasp, and sometimes dives deep enough to be mistaken for a bass clarinet. The album goes a long way in proving that it's not the axe you play, it's the sensibility you bring to it.

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