Sam Gendel plays like a man trying to erase his instrument. The Californian saxophonist – perhaps best-known for his thoughtful collaborations with Moses Sumney and bassist Sam Wilkes – has long been honing slippery improvisations, pitch-bending his harmonies and sliding over rhythms. His latest LP, Satin Doll, is his most fully formed yet and pushes this experimentation to its furthest extreme, his sax sounding like melting wax on his 13 cover versions of jazz standards.
The reinterpretation of the standard has long been a key part of jazz’s thirst for reinvention, yet Satin Doll will likely make many purists squirm. Processed and synthesised, Gendel’s sax veers between a vocoder voice and electronic strings: tender like a metallic lullaby on Lester Young’s Stardust, polyglottal and choral on Afro Blue.
Read the review in the Guardian.
[This piece was published on 13/03/20]