Heritage/Evolution, Volume 1 Makes Four End-of-Year Lists

The PRISM Quartet’s most recent album, Heritage/Evolution, Vol. 1 (innova) was named on several end-of-year lists for best recording of 2015. Thanks for listening, and for all of your support!

Top 20 Albums of 2015
One of the best things about PRISM Quartet’s 2015 double-CD set is its implicit promise of a second volume—which shouldn’t dissuade anyone from checking out the fulsome pleasures of this indispensable first. In contrast to the group’s 2014 release, People’s Emergency Center, which centered on compositions by the quartet’s tenor saxist Matthew Levy only, Heritage/Evolution, Volume 1 features pieces by fellow saxophonists Rudresh Mahanthappa, Dave Liebman, Greg Osby, Miguel Zenón, Tim Ries, and Steve Lehman; even better, the saxophonists join Levy, Timothy McAllister (soprano), Zachary Shemon (alto), and Taimur Sullivan (baritone) on their respective selections. As strong as the release is as a whole, two pieces in particular leave a mark: Zenón’s lyrical ballad “The Missing Piece” and Osby’s hauntingly beautiful “Covenant of Voices.”

Bird is the Worm
…and perhaps most remarkable of all is the immaculate fluency of the PRISM Quartet members in meshing seamlessly with each guest saxophonist and their creative vision.  So many of these pieces have a huge presence and a jaw-dropping beauty, and are so often delivered with the noble grace of sacred music.  It’s one of those recordings that you want to go on forever, and it almost does, and, of course, those closing notes still come too soon.  These Best Of lists really call for a minimum twenty years of acclimation time to really judge how the albums from a particular year size up against one another.  In twenty years time, I guarantee, this album will still have earned its #4 slot.  Nor would it surprise me if this album was widely regarded as one of the top saxophone albums of the first half of the century.  Just amazing work.

Ted Gioia
The 100 Best Albums of 2015 (all styles, all genres)

AllAboutJazz Italy
Top 10 by Maurizio Zerbo

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