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World Saxophone Quartet meets M’Boom

Nearly three decades have passed since that glorious 1981 evening, when an audience of three thousand gathered in the cathedral of St. John the Divine to hear what Max Roach called a “Grand Collaboration”: a concert by M’Boom and the World Saxophone Quartet. For those who were there and those who weren’t, this “Great Collaboration” is an eagerly anticipated sequel, an event that promises to get 2010 off to a roaring start. This time, the two legendary ensembles convene for a week at Birdland, January 19-23. Roach founded M’Boom in 1970, as the first ensemble consisting entirely of Western and non-Western percussion instruments, ranging from vibraphone, marimba, and tympani to steel drums, timbales, and glockenspiels. M’Boom, which has numbered as many as 10 players, now includes three of its founding member, Joe Chambers, Warren Smith, and Ray Mantilla, along with Eli Fountain, and Steve Barrios. The World Saxophone Quartet, founded in 1976, is the most celebrated saxophone ensemble in jazz history, and is made up of three founding members: David Murray, Hamiet Bluiett, and Oliver Lake, plus James Carter in the seat originally occupied by Julius Hemphill. These two ensembles fuse together with an almost mystical cohesion, intensity, and flat-out joy.


 

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