Saxophonist's Strength And Soul Abound On Posthumous Album

The progressive-jazz community lost a hero when tenor saxophonist, composer and educator Glenn Spearman died in the prime of his music-making a year and a half ago. The San Francisco Bay Area artist had led a number of dynamic groups, including the Double Trio, which recorded several albums for Black Saint. Free Worlds collects four sessions, with different group configurations, which Spearman organized in the mid-'90s. Typical of Spearman's small-group composing, the tunes generally begin with concise statements that explode into raucous, virtuosic improvisations. Brilliant bassist Lisle Ellis anchors most cuts with sensitive drummer Donald Robinson, and a number of guests shine, including underappreciated trumpeter Raphe Malik and Indian classical singers Ustad Salamat Ali Khan and Shafqat Ali Khan, who blend soulfully with the leader's tenor on "Raga Shamwati."