Charles McPherson – Reverence (ENG review)

Smoke Sessions Records - Street date April 26th 2024
Charles McPherson – Reverence

It’s the album of a jazz monument that will be released on April 26th, the name of this CD is “Reverence” by saxophonist Charles McPherson, resolutely modern, urban, a live performance that sounds like a studio album or vice versa, depending on your perspective… “Reverence,” dedicated to Barry Harris, captured in front of a live audience at the Smoke Jazz Club and featuring his quintet composed of Terell Stafford, Jeb Patton, David Wong, and Billy Drummond. No matter what Webster says—how does Charles McPherson define reverence? “For me, it means a deep respect and admiration,” explains the legendary saxophonist, who chose the word as the title of his stunning new album, “Reverence.” “There’s a nostalgic element, but you can certainly have reverence for someone who is here in the moment as much as you can have reverence for the past.

And it’s true that we are treated from the first notes, to some beautiful jazz club music to savor in the evening or at night, and the incomparable sound of Charles McPherson that will keep you engaged until the end, telling you that six tracks are so short, each track lasting an average of seven minutes, we do have a complete set, it’s just that we settle into this album a little too comfortably. “Reverence” certainly describes everything I feel about the musicians I’ve worked closely with throughout my life, all those I respect musically and artistically.” “I really love the language of bebop, which allows for a wide range of expressions,” he explains. “But I’m not a civilized bebopper—I’m a wild bebopper, and I could go anywhere from that starting point. I’m 84 now, so the heart remains bebop language, but I do it in today’s world with today’s players.”

Born in Joplin, Missouri, McPherson spent his formative years in the rich jazz city of Detroit, where he was mentored by the late Barry Harris, the pianist who is also a great jazz reference… “Ode to Barry” was written in tribute to the great pianist and educator. But McPherson undertook the recording with the utmost respect he holds for Harris in mind and approached the session with a sense of reverence for both his longtime mentor and collaborator, as well as for the younger musicians he enlisted for the session. Charles McPherson, alto saxophone Terell Stafford, trumpet Jeb Patton, piano David Wong, bass Billy Drummond, drums The title of “Reverence” may be meant to reflect how McPherson feels towards his former bandmates.

There’s no need to try to classify this album from this 84-year-old who evidently still has a remarkable vitality that commands respect and demands attentive listening. If you love jazz, this album is already a legend even before its release.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, April 5th 2024

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Recorded November 1–5, 2023 at SMOKE Jazz Club, New York City
Producer: Paul Stache
Associate Producer: Damon Smith Recording
Engineer: Paul Stache & Edwin Huet
Assistant Engineer: Robert Polanco
Mixing Engineers: Chris Allen & Paul Stache Mastering
Engineer: Chris Allen Photographers: Jimmy & Dena Katz
Executive Producers: Paul Stache & Molly Johnson