Musical Journey Through Time
Based in southern Florida, The New Vision Sax Ensemble is a saxophone quartet comprised of Diron Holloway on Soprano, Alto Sax and clarinet; James Lockhart on Alto Sax; Jason Hainsworth on Tenor Sax and Melton Mustafa on Baritone Sax. It was formed by Mustafa in 1999 and its members are music educators as well as musicians. While able to play all genres of music but focuses on Jazz as its core.
While inspired by the 29th Street Sax Quartet and the World Saxophone Quartet, on the present disc they play more traditionally in their renditions of jazz classics as well as material from the ragtime era to modern show tunes in a lively manner opening with a spirited bebop rendition of Bobby Watson's "Conservation" featuring Holloway's alto sax along with Mustafa's baritone which provides the bass anchor as well as takes a brief, gruff solo, followed by an equally appealing bop-flavored rendition of "A Night in Tunisia." The old classic "Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey," has the spotlight on Holloway's twisting, at times squealing, clarinet lines, as well as the tenor sax of Hainsworth.
And here is a nice, straight rendition of Monk's "Round Midnight," along with a lengthy "Selections From Porgy and Bess" with considerable lyricism as well opportunity for each member to take the spotlight. Lockhart is featured on a lyrical rendition of "My Favorite Things," saying close to the lyrics throughout and followed by a joyful reading of "I Feel Pretty" from "West Side Story." "Selections From Scott Joplin" is a chamber ensemble medley several familiar numbers from the great ragtime composer including "The Entertainer" and "Maple Leaf Rag," before the moving closing performance of "Amazing Grace,"
As noted, the performances here are straight forward, and one is impressed by the full ensemble sound throughout so one does not miss a rhythm section when enjoying this highly engaging recording.
I received my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the July-August 2017 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 373). Here they are in performance doing "Round Midnight."