by David Adler
Excerpt: Fiction could not create more colorful, ridiculous characters,” writes Andrew Rathbun in the liner notes to Affairs of State. He’s speaking of the Bush administration. A native of Canada based in Brooklyn, Rathbun is upset, like many, by political realities in the U.S. Since instrumental jazz, not fiction, is his expressive medium, he offers nine new compositions that speak to life under Bush, with such titles as “Fiasco,” “Break the Chains” and “We Have Nothing But Tears.” No major-key strolls in the park here. No heavy-handed rants, either. The program succeeds above all on musical grounds. Rathbun is an advanced tenor/soprano sax improviser whose previous efforts, including his 2002 Kenny Wheeler collaboration Sculptures, are well worth acquiring.