Saxophonist Alex LoRe has been a close friend for many years and it’s nothing short of inspiring to watch his continued development as a bandleader and composer over the past five years. With his latest release “Karol” (Challenge Records), LoRe’s compositional abilities are on full display, whether you like it or not, you will have to sit down and listen to this album; there will be no “listening while you work” with this new set of music. The album consists largely of compositions that are through-composed, although a few of the tracks are a little less dense (“Color Wheel” and “Vanishing Act” come to mind). To me, LoRe’s commitment to sound as well as his compositional intuition, have always been some of the more remarkable qualities of his artistry. When I first heard LoRe in 2013, I was not a fan of his sound at all. Not because it wasn’t great, but because it was so starkly different from my own conception of sound for the saxophone. The extremely lazy way of describing his sound would be to say that it sounds somewhere between Lee Konitz and a classical saxophonist’s sound; dark, subdued yet somehow bursting at the seams. A deeper listen to not only this record but of the body of work that exists for LoRe and his band (now three records worth of material), points towards a sound that is grounded in its own confidence; one that could truly be identified as “unique” in a time where anyone can make an album. Alex’s band includes some of my favorite musicians with Glenn Zaleski on piano, Desmond White on bass and Allan Mednard on drums. Having seen this band play live a number of times, it’s especially thrilling to hear the same level of patience, intrigue and spontaneity captured on the studio version of these songs. There is a lot to be said about maintaining a band of the same musicians for any duration of time and much of the success of this album can certainly be attributed to this perhaps overlooked factor. There is a selfless-ness to the interplay on this record that can only be developed through trust and it’s evident in the performance of each of these compositions. LoRe’s long time mentor and former teacher (also my former teacher!) George Garzone, makes special appearances on a few tracks and proves a worthy sparring partner for LoRe, but no longer does it feel like a teacher-student relationship, as LoRe firmly holds his own and then some.
To purchase the album direct from Alex, visit www.alexlore.com.
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