COMPOSERS: Odean Pope
LABELS: In and Out
WORKS: Odeans List
PERFORMER: James Carter, Odean Pope, Walter Blanding (sax), Terell Stafford (trumpet), Jeff Watts (drums), George Burton (piano), Lee Smith (bass)
CATALOGUE NO: CD 77102-2
Philadelphian composer and tenor player Odean Pope likes saxophones. So much so he sometimes leads an eight-piece sax choir. But for this outstanding studio date, the former Max Roach sideman has restricted himself to just two of the barnstorming best – Walter Blanding and James Carter – and for balance thrown in a brace of fearsome horn players.
The chemistry between the players produces a magnificently volatile yet melodic music with Pope’s arrangements creating chain reactions and counter reactions in the soloists’ lines. It’s a potent formula, with Carter’s baritone sax providing the elemental pull, Weiss and Stafford scorching overhead. Pope himself
is a soulful sorcerer, whether playing a multi-layered, rusty toned blues or slipping through spell-binding changes. It’s a mystery why this Mephistophelean jazz musician isn’t better known outside of America’s East Coast. Could be, at the age of 71, Pope’s just coming into his own. Garry Booth