Back in April, I used my Facebook page to observe International Jazz Month by posting a jazz video every day. My little conceit was to include a musician I had heard live at some time in my life―a bit of braggadocio, if you will. While flipping through my mental Rolodex, Bill Saxton’s name Popped up. I had heard Saxton with Roy Haynes at the three Sisters in West Paterson, NJ in the late 1970's and remembered enjoying his work on tenor and soprano. After that, he slipped from my ken, although I thought he had made a record or two as leader after I saw him.
I’ve been listening to this music long enough that I did my Internet search with at least a little trepidation. Years ago, jazz musicians often ran into career or personal problems that took them off the scene―sometimes permanently. Happily, I was pleased to find that Bill Saxton is still playing and has his own website and, since 2006, jazz club. He’s even been written about in the New York Times.
I was also able to track down ATYMONY (short for And the Young Musicians of New York), a 1994 recording on the Jazzline label, apparently recorded during one of Saxton’s numerous European tours. It’s a solid date, featuring several of his original compositions, like Almost Is Nothing and Thabiti, along with beautiful renditions of In a Sentimental Mood and Over and Over Again, and Clifford Jordan’s Bearcat. I was impressed with his strong, individual style on tenor and lyrical soprano―both intelligent and full of feeling. Carlos McKinney contributes some fine Tyneresque piano, and Omer Avital on bass and Noel Parris on drums provide excellent rhythmic support throughout. (Through the miracle of theIinternet, I learned that McKinney has gone on to become an important music producer―who knew?).
Bill Saxton is a fine, underrated jazz warrior. If you’re in New York, check him out! Meanwhile, here are Almost is Nothing, Thabiti, and In a Sentimental Mood.
Almost is Nothing
In a Sentimental Mood