by Ken Franckling
Jeff Rupert & George Garzone, The Ripple (Rupe Media)
You throw a pebble into a pond and it creates a ripple effect that seems endless. A musician can have a similar impact on others influenced by his or her mastery. This project, The Ripple, honors the extended reach of the floating improvisational style, warm sound and rhythmic concepts of tenor saxophonist Lester Young. Contemporary tenor masters Jeff Rupert and George Garzone pay homage here without digging into a single composition or tune recorded by Young.
Instead, they play pieces from the repertoires of musicians that Prez influenced, including saxophonists Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Eddie Harris, Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter and Zoot Sims. Quite fittingly, they included “Lester Left Town,” which then-Jazz Messengers member Shorter wrote right after learning that Prez had died. Three Rupert originals also underscore the ripple effect. They include the high-flying “GO-GO.” The ace rhythm section includes pianist Richard Drexler, bassist Jeremy Allen and drummer Marty Morell. Rupert and Garzone blend their individual styles into a compelling tenor summit, capping this exceptional session with an impromptu duet on the standard “Alone Together.”