Sabertooth | Dr. Midnight Live at the Green Mill

Delmark DE 579 • www.delmark.com

Sometimes you get lucky when you record a live set of music.

Like in this well-captured, live recording of Sabertooth's regular Sunday midnight show (12 am to 5 am) at Chicago's storied Green Mill.

Fronted by Cameron Pfiffner and Pat Mallinger, the quartet's music is in the 'tough Chicago tenor' tradition of Johnny Griffin and Lockjaw Davis, and Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons, but listen — these players are also up-to-date.

While they state boppish themes, harmonize, and run counterlines, their tenor solos also stretch into the altissimo cries of a John Coltrane; they get creative.

For instance, "Dr. Midnight" finds Pfiffner in a billowing dialogue with Sirota's agile drums, but later the tune ends differently with Mallinger playing long held notes, whereas in "Tetemetearri", Mallinger's Native American flute plays a soothing melody that is soon brought to a fever pitch by his probing tenor saxophone, and to the lighter mood of "China Cat Sunflower", Pete Benson once again contributes his spare and driving Hammond B3 work; Benson's playing reminds me of Larry Young's.

But as Sabertooth holds forth and shares their blues squeals, cries, swing, and harmonic explorations, it also takes some time until the quiet and almost respectful audience starts to applaud after the guys' solos.

But let me say, I'm also the audience, and this is recommended music — music that bridges the gap between entertainment and creative music.

Music you enjoyed and wouldn't mind hearing again.

by David Fujino August 2008

The tracks
1. Blues for C Piff
2. It's Surely Gonna Flop If it Ain't Got That Bop
3. Mary Anne
4. Tetemetearri
5. Dr. Midnight
6. Odd Couple
7. China Cat Sunflower

Record on June 23, 2007, Live at the Green Mill, Chicago

The musicians
Cameron Pfiffner — tenor and soprano sax, flute, piccolo
Pat Mallinger — tenor and alto sax, Native American flute
Pete Benson — Hammond B3 organ
Ted Sirota — drums
We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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