Where We Are Nowby Ray Comiskey


The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings calls Rathbun a rising star and, on this evidence, that s spot on. The Canadian saxophonist/ composer is a gifted performer who writes challenging and complex pieces; their main raison d’ etre may be harmonic, but their lines also have a kind of cerebral lyricism ideally suited to his tenor and soprano. There is also a wider ambition here: no less than a state-of-the-US-nation address in music. Whether it has the resonance of Rathbun’s earlier, Bush-bashing Affairs of State is arguable; a sense of unease lurks here, especially in the four-part Son Suite, dedicated to his child, so the points being made are more subtle. But the music, with Nate Radley (guitar) and a George Colligan-Johannes Weidenmuller- Billy Hart rhythm section, is seldom less than engrossing, with Rathbun’s soprano captivatingly eloquent and Hart a force of nature.