Sam Most: New Jazz Standards

Last week, I taught at the Great Basin Jazz Camp and our trumpet guru Carl Saunders brought in this newly released album featuring the recently deceased jazz flutist Sam Most that he helped to produce. Carl’s a great writer, and the album is nothing but his tunes. We faculty sat around one night after data-dumping jazz into kids all day and listened to it front to back, and not just I, but Carl (who had already listened to it many, many, many times), Scott Whitfield, and the rest of the faculty (minus two who had gigs in Boise) were entranced. Sam has bebop chops, and had a unique ability to play clear, recognizable, and unique melodies through virtually any kind of harmonic progression.

Carl observed that part of his standard recording technique in solos is to stop once he hits a clam and backtrack to his last breath, and re-record, and play the lick again. He has a fantastic musical memory which is evident in his playing. He said that when he was recording Sam, Sam was playing fantastic lick after fantastic lick, and would occasionally hit a clam, and the first time Carl stopped recording to go back and fix it, Sam replied something like “I’m not used to doing it that way.” But, back he went, and unlike Carl, never played the same thing twice yet maintained a constant stream of well-crafted original lines. Scott, no stranger to playing well-constructed lines, summed up the end result thus: “Jesus!”

I gotta agree. Sam performed one of the best jazz quartet albums I’ve heard in years, and it being his last makes it more special. Carl and Sam were good friends for years.

Oh, and the scat solo is [awesome overflow error].

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