Jerome Sabbagh / Greg Tuohey - No Filter

Label: Sunnyside Records, 2018

Personnel – Jerome Sabbagh: tenor saxophone; Greg Tuohey: electric guitar; Joe Martin: acoustic bass; Kush Abadey: drums.

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French-born, New York-based saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh co-leads a new quartet with his longtime buddy and collaborator, guitarist Greg Tuohey. Both worked together in another quartet, Filpside, in which they teamed up with bassist Matt Penman and drummer Darren Beckett. However, for this new outing, the bandleaders are joined by bassist Joe Martin, a core member of Sabbagh’s quartet (together with Ben Monder and Ted Poor), and drummer Kush Abadey, a recent discovery.

No Filter, which was recorded in New York with no edits or overdubs, includes three compositions from Sabbagh and four from Tuohey. The journey is initiated with the former’s “Vicious”, where a relatable guitar ostinato is drawn from the power rock compendium, conveying a cinematic Mission-Impossible-like vibe. Moreover, eccentric guitar strokes are part of the comping as the saxophonist slides outside the diatonic scale without losing the nice melodic flow of the song. Whereas Tuohey discloses his jazz-rock technique, Abadey awaits the last section of the tune to improvise with brio.

A great harmonic treatment is given to Tuohey’s “Lurker”. The guitarist employs a slightly dirtier sound and delivers a personal statement enriched with motivic ideas. The atmosphere, which was built upon an amalgamation of post-bop and pop/rock, favors Sabbagh’s creative phrasing.

Possessing authentic compositional styles, the bandleaders have musical personalities that allow for an effective musical match. They are able to play with dynamism but are also proficient when cooking beautiful ballads. That is the case of Tuohey’s “No Road”, whose sweet contagious torpor invades and conquers with a strong lyrical sensibility. He totally changes posture on “Chaos Reigns”, a shifting composition that starts by waltzing discreetly with a feeling of near sadness, passing through an unconfined yet minimalistic atmosphere marked by saxophone cries, and ultimately, as the title suggests, delving into a more chaotic urbanity. That's when the electric guitar infuses gripping tension and a distorted toxicity.

Cotton” and “You Are On My Mind” are contrasting Sabbagh compositions. The former is a snail-paced lament stimulated by dark mallet propulsions, whereas the latter displays a joy-filled melody in a bright, saturated post-bop fashion.

No Filter provides an engaging experience filled with alluring melodies and harmonies and dexterous transitions. It translates into inspired, grown-up music with a fresh taste of youth.

 Grade  A-

Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
01 - Vicious ► 03 - No Road ► 04 - Chaos Reigns