A series of concerts of Joshua Redman is taking place in Paris at the moment. Organized around the Cité de la Musique of Paris and the Pleyel room, this “Domaine privé” (private domain) is a white card to this great saxophone player.

The series has begun on Friday with a concert of the Axis Saxophone Quartet, a brand new band grouping together four of my favourite saxophone players: Chris Cheek, Chris Potter, Joshua Redman and Mark Turner.

For this post, I suggest to walk throw journeys of these four musicians to try to find relations which could have taken to the creation of this “All Stars” saxophone quartet.

They are from the same generation: Chris Potter born in 1971, Joshua Redman in 1969, Chris Cheek in 1968 and Mark Turner in 1965. Only separated by 6 years, their roads should have crossed themselves.

Looking for these crossings, I first wanted to know if common recordings exist between these saxophone players.
The simpler is to look at each case: 4 musicians lead to a combination of 6 pairs of musicians.
Let’s look for 6 tracks to listen to them two by two.

Joshua Redman / Chris Cheek

On his website, Joshua Redman indicates that Chris Cheek is, among saxophone players of his generation, the one who has probably had the more influence on his play. He discovered him at his arrival to Boston.
He has invited him to play on the piece « Mantra #5 » on his album « Back East » in 2007, for Nonesuch:

Mantra #5 by Joshua Redman on Grooveshark
To see the timing of the track, I invite you to follow a playlist on the right (Spotify, Deezer ou Grooveshark) or to open the page Playlist La Zik à Beber.

In this track, they play both soprano saxophone. Difficult to know who is who (Does someone can tell me?). It confirms the proximity between their play and their musicality.
The theme is skilfully orchestrated between the two musicians, exposing long parts first, one after the other, then shorter and shorter parts until becoming entangled (around 2:00) before the beginning of the choruses.
Then each one gives the baton to the other after each bridge. It is at this moment that we can hear the sound difference between their play.
The first sound is clear and a bit attracted to high notes (1st, 3rd and 5th choruses).
The second sound is a bit more round and uses more the medium sounds of the instrument (2nd, 4th, 5th choruses).

Joshua Redman / Mark Turner

Joshua Redman and Mark Turner know each other also for a long time because their nouns are written on Leon Parker’s album « Above & Below » in 1994. In 1998, Mark Turner invites Joshua Redman on three tracks of his album « Mark Turner », then the two of them appears on album « Turning Point » of Aaron Goldberg in 1999.
In 2000, is published « Beyond » for Warner Bros, album in which Joshua Redman invites in his turn Mark Turner for track « Leap of Faith »:

Leap of Faith by Joshua Redman on Grooveshark

The two musicians play a lot together in this tune.
I suppose we hear Mark Turner alone from 3:20 with his high-pitched tone, very soft, thin, and almost fragile, like his look.
Sometimes he is joined by Joshua Redman before letting him alone at 5:20. Here we listen to a more medium-pitched tone, a sound warmer and more direct.

Joshua Redman / Chris Potter

I don’t remember of an album on which we can hear Joshua Redman and Chris Potter playing together. Tell me if a recording exists.

Chris Cheek / Mark Turner

In their case, a lot of albums in which they both play are found:
- « El Minotauro » by Guillermo Klein in 1994, for Candid
- « The Music Of Mercedes Rossy » under the name of Mark Turner in 1996, for Fresh Sound New Talent
- « A Girl Named Joe » under the name of Chris Cheek this time in 1998, for Fresh Sound New Talent
- « Horse With A Broken Leg » by Mark Zubek in 2000, for Fresh Sound New Talent
- « Sidetracked » by Jakob Bro in 2005, for Loveland Records
- « Night Songs » by Ferenc Nemeth in 2007, for Dreamers Collective Records
- « Pearl River » by Jakob Bro in 2007, for Loveland Records
- « The Stars Are All New Songs (Vol. 1) » by Jakob Bro in 2008, for Loveland Records

The following track « Lowered » is taken from album « A Girl Named Joe » by Chris Cheek.
The two saxophone players are in perfect agreement! Their two sounds get married marvellously on this ballad.

Lowered by Chris Cheek on Grooveshark

Chris Cheek / Chris Potter

It is under the direction of Paul Motian that are found Chris Cheek and Chris Potter together, from 1994 with « Reincarnation of a love bird », for Winter & Winter, then with « Flight of the Bluejay » in 1996 and « Play Monk and Powell » in 1999. The band was called The Electric Bebop Band.
I can’t find tracks on online platforms but we are going to listen to Chris Potter in the next chapter.

Chris Potter / Mark Turner

Not knowing any tune in which Chris Potter and Mark Turner play together, I have looked to find if such a recording exists.
I was surprised to see that they have common experiences for a long time. In 1993, they have played in the second of Ryan Kisor (« On the One », for Columbia). They play together in the first track « On the One ».
Unfortunately I can’t find any online place to listen to this title. I have only found an extract on this website to suggest the style of this music:
http://www.allmusic.com/album/on-the-one-mw0000096563

Remark: It seems there is an album intitled « For The Great Jazz Road » but I can’t find anything on it.

Here we are, finally: a recording allowing us to listen to both of them.
It is on album « Imprint » by bass player John Patitucci (for Concord 2000).
They play together on the piece « Little Steps »:

Little Steps by John Patitucci on Grooveshark

In the listening, I think the first chorus is played by Chris Potter on tenor saxophone (1:30), first accompanied by Mark Turner and then let totally free (2:00). We recognize Chris Potter’s powerful sound, his play on the whole range, from profound low-pitched notes (2:47 ou 3:09) to high-pitched notes almost breaking (2:32 ou 3:04).
Some effects he likes: rhythmical play (like between 1:59 and 2:10, or between 3:16 and 3:33), a rise by intervals with ghost notes (2:40) and a lot of others.

After theme (3:50), Mark Turner takes is turn for a solo (4:00). We hear the difference with Chris Potter, his play is more calm and he prefers regularly staying in the high-pitched notes of his tenor saxophone to reach the extremes in softness (examples around 4:45 and between 5:00 and 5:15).

For more details on these musicians (pictures, discographies), here are their websites:
Chris Cheek : http://www.chrischeek.net/
Chris Potter : http://www.chrispottermusic.com/
Joshua Redman : http://www.joshuaredman.com/
Mark Turner (no website found under his name so I give you the website of his FLY trio): http://www.flytrio.com/