Mood! (2024) Saxophone Standards Vol.3
Dale Fielder Quartet
The release of “Mood!” on January 1st, 2024, is also the 29th anniversary of the Dale Fielder Quartet's first gig on New Year's Day 1995. The benefit of this long-time alliance is obvious in the relaxed, telepathic-like interaction they maintain which is one of the factors that allows the group to rise a notch above in a field that abounds in great jazz groups. The DFQ is led by Fielder and ex-Charles Mingus Workshop pianist Jane Getz. It is obvious that Fielder and Getz are both dedicated children of the bebop era. They sound and play with a love, reverence, and authenticity that is striking, almost as if someone from that golden era were still alive and playing. The entire band including bassist Bill Markus and drummer Thomas White play with an easy swing and a full, “classic” sound that draws the listener in. The DFQ is a band that is perfectly balanced; where everyone listens, and supports each other, while also getting the chance to step out individually.
Fielder, a gifted composer, who primarily features his original compositions throughout most of his 23-album recording career, reflected on releasing two consecutive, back-to-back albums of jazz standards. “Throughout all our years together, we always included and liked playing standards. And in doing these two recordings, it felt good to come back to the standards in a bigger, almost exclusive way. They can still speak to the emotions of today. Because the pandemic eliminated many of our opportunities for live performances, we’ve been feeling kind of rusty in the fewer times we come together to play. It made sense with the standards, to record on familiar territory that also didn’t require a whole lot of rehearsing, which also kept things fresh and on the edge. These are the albums and tunes our fans have always wanted us to make. Even though we primarily play originals, we always include a standard in each set, usually to start off with. And I constantly hear requests from our audiences to play more standards not so much for the familiarity, but because of the way we play them as well as our selection of the more obscure ones. I don’t think there’s any reason to be done with playing standards. The positive response to "Nocturne Serenity" has really illustrated this to me. Where else can you play “Stella By Starlight” every night, the people love it, and we find new things to do with it each time? It’s a music where you can use structure to liberate improvisation. There’s no end to the freedom of expression within that idiom. And for me, music should sound connected with its tradition, invoking a sound and feel that at the same time is both “ancient” as well as "futuristic". Let the ancestors speak through you and the music in the present moments when creating it.”
Since 2002, Fielder, known for primarily playing the baritone saxophone, does not play it on “Mood!” He plays mostly alto sax on four of the seven selections, two on soprano and one on tenor sax. As he did with “Nocturne Serenity”, Fielder continues to showcase the other members of his quartet, primarily pianist Jane Getz front, and center. Generous space is also given to the other members of the quartet, Bill Markus on bass and Thomas White on drums. On every tune except for the opener, “Change Partners” and “It’s You Or No One,” Getz takes the first solo. The album starts with the rare standard, “Change Partners” written by Irving Berlin for the 1938 film “Carefree.” This tune perfectly illustrates what the DFQ is all about. The band’s effortless swing and interplay are sublime and dramatic. Everyone gets to solo. Of particular note is Fielder and Getz trading “fours” before the final melody, beautifully finishing each other’s phrases and has become something of a DFQ “standard” that their listeners look for. The band’s treatments of the standards, “End Of A Love Affair,” the extremely rarely heard “Alone Too Long,” as well as “It’s You or No One,” and “Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea” are all swinging, evocative, and have that classic sound and feel. Because these recordings were done at the release performance for their CD “Nocturne Serenity,” two tunes from that CD were reprised, Thelonious Monk’s “Eronel,” and Fielder’s original “Mood!” with Fielder displaying his very singular style and approach on soprano sax for both tunes.
On “Mood!” – “Saxophone Standards Vol 3,” the Dale Fielder Quartet continues to do what they do best: breathe new life into jazz standards. Truly the best authentic jazz performances happen before a live audience. It is something very difficult to do, recording while you are performing, as there is no safety net. Yet Fielder and Company meet this challenge so well; and the recording quality is so good, that you aren’t even aware that this is a live recording until you hear the applause at each tune’s end! Recommended!